Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Italy; with sketches of Spain and Portugal
Author: Beckford, William, 1759-1844
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Italy; with sketches of Spain and Portugal" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from scanned images of public domain material


Transcriber’s note: This etext, which includes the two volumes, attempts
to replicate the printed book as closely as possible. Obvious errors in
spelling and punctuation have been corrected. A list follows the etext.
The archaic spelling of words used by the author (chesnuts, befel,
visiters, cotemporary, woful, etc.) has not been corrected or modernized
by the etext transcriber. Footnotes have been moved to the end of the
text body.



ITALY;

WITH SKETCHES OF

SPAIN AND PORTUGAL.

BY THE AUTHOR OF “VATHEK.”

THIRD EDITION.

IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. I.

LONDON:
RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET,
Publisher in Ordinary to His Majesty.
1835.



ADVERTISEMENT.


Some justly admired Authors having condescended to glean a few stray
thoughts from these Letters, which have remained dormant a great many
years; I have been at length emboldened to lay them before the public.
Perhaps, as they happen to contain passages which persons of
acknowledged taste have honoured with their notice, they may possibly be
less unworthy of emerging from the shade into daylight than I imagined.

Most of these Letters were written in the bloom and heyday of youthful
spirits and youthful confidence, at a period when the old order of
things existed with all its picturesque pomps and absurdities; when
Venice enjoyed her piombi and submarine dungeons; France her bastile;
the Peninsula her holy Inquisition. To look back upon what is beginning
to appear almost a fabulous era in the eyes of the modern children of
light, is not unamusing or uninstructive; for, still better to
appreciate the present, we should be led not unfrequently to recall the
intellectual muzziness of the past.

But happily these pages are not crowded with such records: they are
chiefly filled with delineations of landscape and those effects of
natural phenomena which it is not in the power of revolutions or
constitutions to alter or destroy.

A few moments snatched from the contemplation of political crimes,
bloodshed, and treachery, are a few moments gained to all lovers of
innocent illusion. Nor need the statesman or the scholar despise the
occasional relaxation of light reading. When Jupiter and the great
deities are represented by Homer as retiring from scenes of havoc and
carnage to visit the blameless and quiet Ethiopians, who were the
farthest removed of all nations, the Lord knows whither, at the very
extremities of the ocean,--would they have given ear to manifestos or
protocols? No, they would much rather have listened to the Tales of
Mother Goose.

London, June 12th, 1834.



CONTENTS

OF

THE FIRST VOLUME.


THE LOW COUNTRIES AND GERMANY.

LETTER I.

Passage to Ostend.--The Capuchin church.--Ghent.--Quiet
and Content, the presiding deities of Flanders.--Antwerp.--The
Place de Meir.--Silence and solitude of the town,
contrasted with the tumult and uproar of London.      Page 3


LETTER II.

Visit to the cabinets of pictures in Antwerp.--Monsieur
Van Lencren’s collection.--The Canon Knyff’s house and
gallery of paintings.--The Canon himself.--His domestic
felicity.--Revisit the cathedral.--Grand service in honour of
Saint John the Baptist.--Mynheer Van den Bosch, the organist’s
astonishing flashes of execution.--Evening service in the
cathedral.--Magical effect of the music of Jomelli.--Blighted
avenues.--Slow travelling.--Enter the United Provinces.--Level
scenery.--Chinese prospects.--Reach Meerdyke.--Arrival at the Hague.  14


LETTER III.

The Prince of Orange’s cabinet of paintings.--Temptation
of St. Anthony, by Breughel.--Exquisite pictures by
Berghem and Wouvermans.--Mean garrets stored with inestimable
productions of the Indies.--Enamelled flasks of oriental
essences.--Vision of the wardrobe of Hecuba.--Disenchantment.--Cabinet
of natural history.--A day dream.--A delicious morsel.--Dinner
at Sir Joseph Yorke’s.--Two honourable boobies.--The Great
Wood.--Parterres of the Greffier Fagel.--Air poisoned by the
sluggish canals.--Fishy locality of Dutch banquetting
rooms.--Derivation of the inhabitants of Holland.--Origin
and use of enormous galligaskins.--Escape from damp alleys
and lazy waters.                                                      24


LETTER IV.

Leave the Hague.--Leyden.--Wood near Haerlem.--Waddling
fishermen.--Enter the town.--The great fair.--Riot
and uproar.--Confusion of tongues.--Mine hostess.                     32


LETTER V.

Amsterdam.--The road to Utrecht--Country-houses and
gardens.--Neat enclosures.--Comfortable parties.--Ladies
and Lapdogs.--Arrival at Utrecht.--Moravian establishment--The
woods.--Shops.--Celestial love.--Musical
Sempstresses.--Return to Utrecht.                                     35


LETTER VI.

Arrival at Aix-la-Chapelle.--Glimpse of a dingy grove.--Melancholy
saunterers.--Dusseldorf Gallery.--Nocturnal
depredators.--Arrival at Cologne.--Shrine of the Three
Wise Sovereigns.--Peregrinations of their beatified bones.--Road
to Bonn.--Delights of Catholicism.--Azure mountains.--Visionary
palaces.                                                              39


LETTER VII.

Borders of the Rhine.--Richly picturesque road from Bonn
to Andernach.--Scheme for a floating village.--Coblentz.--A
winding valley.--The river Lahn.--Ems.--The planet.--A
supposed Apparition.--A little sequestered Paradise.                  47


LETTER VIII.

Inveterate Idlers.--The planet Orloff and his satellites.--A
Storm.--Scared women.--A dreary Forest.--Village
of Wiesbaden.--Manheim.--Ulm.--The Danube--unlimited
plains on its margin.--Augsburg.--Sketch of the
Town.--Pomposities of the Town House.                                 53


LETTER IX.

Extensive woods of fir in Bavaria.--Grand Fair at
Munich.--The Elector’s country palace.--Court Ladies.--Fountains.--Costume.--Garden
and tea-room.--Hoydening
festivities there.--The Palace and Chapel.--Gorgeous riches
of the latter.--St. Peter’s thumb.--The Elector’s collection
of pictures.--The Churches.--Hubbub and confusion
of the Fair.--Wild tract of country.--Village of Wolfrathshausen.--Perpetual
forests.--A Tempest.--A night
at a cottage.                                                         63


LETTER X.

Mittenwald.--Mountain chapels.--Saint Anna’s young
and fair worshippers.--Road to Inspruck.--Maximilian’s
tomb.--Vast range of prospects.--A mountain torrent.--Schönberg.      73


LETTER XI.

Steinach.--Its torrent and gloomy strait.--Achievements
of Industry.--A sleepy Region.--Beautiful country round
Brixen.                                                               84


ITALY.

LETTER I.

Bolsano.--Indications of approaching Italy.--Fire-flies.--Appearance
of the Peasantry.--A forest Lake.--Arrive
at Borgo di Volsugano.--Prospect of Hills in the Venetian
State.--Gorgeous Flies.--Fortress of Covalo.--Leave the
country of crags and precipices and enter the territory
of the Bassanese.--Groves of olives and vines.--Classic appearance
of Bassano.--Happy groups.--Pachierotti, the
celebrated singer.--Anecdote of him.                                  89


LETTER II.

Villa of Mosolente.--The route to Venice.--First view
of that city.--Striking prospect from the Leon Bianco.--Morning
scene on the grand canal.--Church of Santa
Maria della Salute.--Interesting group of stately buildings.--Convent
of St. Giorgio Maggiore.--The Redentore--Island
of the Carthusians.                                                   97


LETTER III.

Church of St. Mark.--The Piazza.--Magnificent festivals
formerly celebrated there.--Stately architecture of Sansovino.--The
Campanile.--The Loggetta.--The Ducal Palace.--Colossal
Statues.--Giants’ Stairs.--Fit of enthusiasm.--Evening-scene
in the great Square.--Venetian
intrigue.--Confusion of languages.--Madame de Rosenberg.--Character
of the Venetians.                                                    111


LETTER IV.

Excessive heat.--The Devil and Senegal.--A dreary
shore.--Scene of the Doge’s nuptials with the sea.--Return
to the Place of St. Mark.--Swarm of Lawyers.--Receptacles
for anonymous accusations.--The Council of Ten.--Terrible
punishments of its victims.--Statue of Neptune.--Fatal
Waters.--Bridge of Sighs.--The Fondamenti Nuovi.--Conservatory
of the Mendicanti.--An Oratorio.--Profound
attention of the Audience.                                           123


LETTER V.

M. de Villoison and his attendant Laplander.--Drawings
of ancient Venetian costume in one of the Gradanigo palaces.--Titian’s
master-piece in the church of San Giovanni
e Paolo.--The distant Euganean hills.                                132


LETTER VI.

Isles of Burano, Torcello, and Mazorbo.--The once populous
city of Altina.--An excursion.--Effects of our music
on the inhabitants of the Islands.--Solitary fields infested
by serpents.--Remains of ancient sculpture.--Antique and
fantastic ornaments of the Cathedral of Torcello.--San Lorenzo’s
chair.--Dine in a Convent.--The Nuns.--Oratorio
of Sisera.--Remarks on the music.--Singing of the Marchetti.--A
female orchestra.                                                    137


LETTER VII.

Coast of Fusina.--The Brenta.--A Village of Palaces.--Fiesso.--Exquisite
singing of the Galuzzi.--Marietta
Cornaro.--Scenes of enchantment and fascination.                     145


LETTER VIII.

Reveries.--Walls of Padua.--Confused Pile dedicated to
Saint Anthony.--Devotion at his Shrine.--Penitential
Worshippers.--Magnificent Altar.--Sculpture of Sansovino.--Colossal
Chamber like Noah’s Ark.                                             149


LETTER IX.

Church of St. Justina.--Tombs of remote antiquity.--Ridiculous
attitudes of rheumatic devotees.--Turini’s music.--Another
excursion to Fiesso.--Journey to the Euganean
hills.--Newly discovered ruins.--High Mass in the great
Church of Saint Anthony.--A thunder-storm.--Palladio’s
Theatre at Vicenza.--Verona.--An aërial chamber.--Striking
prospect from it.--The amphitheatre.--Its interior.--Leave
Verona.--Country between that town and
Mantua.--German soldiers.--Remains of the palace of the
Gonzagas.--Paintings of Julio Romano.--A ruined garden.--Subterranean
apartments.                                                          153


LETTER X.

Cross the Po.--A woody country.--The Vintage.--Reggio.--Ridge
of the Apennines.--Romantic ideas connected
with those mountains.--Arrive at Modena.--Road to
Bologna.--Magnificent Convent of Madonna del Monte.--Natural
and political commotions in Bologna.--Proceed towards
the mountains.--Dreary prospects.--The scenery
improves.--Herds of goats.--A run with them.--Return
to the carriage.--Wretched hamlet.--Miserable repast.                166


LETTER XI.

A sterile region.--Our descent into a milder landscape.--Distant
view of Florence.--Moonlight effect.--Visit the
Gallery.--Relics of ancient credulity.--Paintings.--A
Medusa’s head by Leonardo da Vinci.--Curious picture
by Polemberg.--The Venus de Medicis.--Exquisitely
sculptured figure of Morpheus.--Vast Cathedral.--Garden
of Boboli.--Views from different parts of it.--Its resemblance
to an antique Roman garden.                                          173


LETTER XII.

Rambles among the hills.--Excursions with Pacchierotti.--He
catches cold in the mountains.--The whole Republic is
in commotion, and send a deputation to remonstrate with
the Singer on his imprudence.--The Conte Nobili.--Hill
scenery.--Princely Castle and Gardens of the Garzoni
Family.--Colossal Statue of Fame.--Grove of Ilex.--Endless
bowers of Vines.--Delightful Wood of the Marchese
Mansi.--Return to Lucca.                                             186


LETTER XIII.

Set out for Pisa.--The Duomo.--Interior of the Cathedral.--The
Campo Santo.--Solitude of the streets at midday.--Proceed
to Leghorn.--Beauty of the road.--Tower of
the Fanale.                                                          198


LETTER XIV.

The Mole at Leghorn.--Coast scattered over with Watch-towers.--Branches
of rare coral unexpectedly acquired.                                 200


LETTER XV.

Florence again.--Palazzo Vecchio.--View on the Arno.--Sculptures
by Cellini and John of Bologna.--Contempt
shown by the Austrians to the memory of the House of
Medici.--Evening visit to the Garden of Boboli.--The
Opera.--Miserable Singing.--A Neapolitan Duchess.                    203


LETTER XVI.

Detained at Florence by reports of the Malaria at Rome.--Ascend
one of the hills celebrated by Dante.--View from
its brow.--Chapel designed by Michael Angelo.--Birth of
a Princess.--The christening.--Another evening visit to
the woods of Boboli.                                                 209


LETTER XVII.

Pilgrimage to Valombrosa.--Rocky Steeps.--Groves of
Pine.--Vast Amphitheatre of Lawns and Meadows.--Reception
at the Convent.--Wild Glens where the Hermit
Gualbertus had his Cell.--Conversation with the holy
Fathers.--Legendary Tales.--The consecrated Cleft.--The
Romitorio.--Extensive View of the Val d’Arno.--Return
to Florence.                                                         214


LETTER XVIII.

Cathedral at Sienna.--A vaulted Chamber.--Leave Sienna.--Mountains
round Radicofani.--Hunting Palace of the
Grand Dukes.--A grim fraternity of Cats.--Dreary Apartment.          224


LETTER XIX.

Leave the gloomy precincts of Radicofani and enter the
Papal territory.--Country near Aquapendente.--Shores of
the Lake of Bolsena.--Forest of Oaks.--Ascend Monte
Fiascone.--Inhabited Caverns.--Viterbo.--Anticipations
of Rome.                                                             228


LETTER XX.

Set out in the dark.--The Lago di Vico.--View of the
spacious plains where the Romans reared their seat of empire.--Ancient
splendour.--Present silence and desolation.--Shepherd
huts.--Wretched policy of the Papal Government.--Distant
view of Rome.--Sensations on entering the City.--The
Pope returning from Vespers.--St. Peter’s Colonnade.--Interior
of the Church.--Reveries.--A visionary
scheme.--The Pantheon.                                               230


LETTER XXI.

Leave Rome for Naples.--Scenery in the vicinity of Rome.--Albano.--Malaria.--Veletri.--Classical
associations.--The
Circean Promontory.--Terracina.--Ruined Palace.--Mountain
Groves.--Rock of Circe.--The Appian Way.--Arrive
at Mola di Gaeta.--Beautiful prospect.--A Deluge.--Enter
Naples by night, during a fearful Storm.--Clear
Morning.--View from my window.--Courtly Mob at the
Palace.--The Presence Chamber.--The King and his Courtiers.--Party
at the House of Sir W. H.--Grand Illumination
at the Theatre of St. Carlo.--Marchesi.                              240


LETTER XXII.

View of the coast of Posilipo.--Virgil’s tomb.--Superstition
of the Neapolitans with respect to Virgil.--Aërial
situation.--A grand scene.                                           253


LETTER XXIII.

A ramble on the shore of Baii.--Local traditions.--Cross
the bay.--Fragments of a temple dedicated to Hercules.--Wondrous
reservoir constructed for the fleet of Nero.--The
Dead Lake.--Wild scene.--Beautiful meadow.--Uncouth
rocks.--An unfathomable gulph.--Sadness induced
by the wild appearance of the place.--Conversation
with a recluse.--Her fearful narration.--Melancholy
evening.                                                             258


LETTER XXIV.

The Tyrol Mountains.--Intense cold.--Delight on beholding
human habitations.                                                   280


SECOND VISIT TO ITALY.


LETTER I.

First day of summer.--A dismal plain.--Gloomy entrance
to Cologne.--Labyrinth of hideous edifices.--Hotel of Der
Heilige Geist.                                                       285


LETTER II.

Enter the Tyrol.--Picturesque scenery.--Village of Nasseriet.--World
of boughs.--Forest huts.--Floral abundance.                          288


LETTER III.

Rapidity of our drive along the causeways of the Brenta.--Shore
of Fusina.--A stormy sky.--Draw near to Venice.--Its
deserted appearance.--Visit to Madame de R.--Cesarotti.              290


LETTER IV.

Excursion to Mirabello.--Beauty of the road thither.--Madame
de R.’s wild-looking niece.--A comfortable
Monk’s nest.                                                         294


LETTER V.

Rome.--Strole to the Coliseo and the Palatine Mount.--A
grand Rinfresco.--The Egyptian Lionesses.--Illuminations.            297


LETTER VI.

The Negroni Garden.--Its solitary and antique appearance.--Stately
Porticos of the Lateran.--Dreary Scene.                              299


LETTER VII.

Naples.--Portici.--The King’s Pagliaro and Garden.--Description
of that pleasant spot.                                               302


GRANDE CHARTREUSE.

LETTER I.

Determination to visit the Grande Chartreuse.--Reach the
Village of Les Echelles.--Gloomy region.--The Torrent.--Entrance
of the Desert.--Portal of the consecrated Enclosure.--Dark
Woods and Caverns.--Crosses.--Inscriptions.                          307


LETTER II.

Thick forest of beech-trees.--Fearful glimpses of the torrent.--Throne
of Moses.--Lofty bridge.--Distant view of
the Convent.--Profound calm.--Enter the convent gate.--Arched
aisle.--Welcomed by the father Coadjutor.--The
Secretary and Procurator.--Conversation with them.--A
walk amongst the cloisters and galleries.--Pictures of different
Convents of the order.--Grand Hall adorned with
historical paintings of St. Bruno’s life.                            314


LETTER III.

Cloisters of extraordinary dimensions.--Cells of the
Monks.--Severity of the order.--Death-like calm.--The
great Chapel.--Its interior.--Marvellous events relating to
St. Bruno.--Retire to my cell.--Strange writings of St.
Bruno.--Sketch of his Life.--Appalling occurrence.--Vision
of the Bishop of Grenoble.--First institution of the Carthusian
order.--Death of St. Bruno.--His translation.                        324


LETTER IV.

Mystic discourse.--A mountain ramble.--A benevolent
Hermit.--Red light in the northern sky.--Lose my way in
the solitary hills.--Approach of night.                              335


LETTER V.

Pastoral scenery of Valombré.--Ascent of the highest
Peak in the Desert.--Grand amphitheatre of Mountains.--Farewell
benediction of the Fathers.                                          342


SALEVE.

LETTER I.

Revisit the trees on the summit of Saleve.--Pas d’Echelle.--Moneti.--Bird’s-eye
prospects.--Alpine flowers.--Extensive
view from the summit of Saleve.--Youthful enthusiasm.--Sad
realities.                                                           357


LETTER II.

Chalet under the Beech-trees.--A mountain Bridge.--Solemnity
of the night.--The Comedie.--Relaxation of
Genevese Morality.                                                   366



THE LOW COUNTRIES

AND

GERMANY.


LETTER I.

     Passage to Ostend.--The Capuchin church.--Ghent.--Quiet and
     Content, the presiding deities of Flanders.--Antwerp.--The Place de
     Meir.--Silence and solitude of the town, contrasted with the tumult
     and uproar of London.


Ostend, 21st June, 1780.

We had a rough passage, and arrived at this imperial haven in a piteous
condition. Notwithstanding its renown and importance, it is but a scurvy
place--preposterous Flemish roofs disgust your eyes when cast
upwards--swaggering Dutch skippers and mongrel smugglers are the
principal objects they meet with below; and then the whole atmosphere is
impregnated with the fumes of tobacco, burnt peat, and garlick. I
should esteem myself in luck, were the nuisances of this seaport
confined only to two senses; but, alas! the apartment above my head
proves a squalling brattery, and the sounds which proceed from it are so
loud and frequent, that a person might think himself in limbo, without
any extravagance.

In hope of some relief, I went to the Capuchin church, a large solemn
building, in search of silence and solitude; but here again was I
disappointed. There happened to be an exposition of the holy wafer with
ten thousand candles; and whilst half-a-dozen squeaking fiddles fugued
and flourished away in the galleries, and as many paralytic monks
gabbled before the altars, a whole posse of devotees, in long white
hoods and flannels, were sweltering on either side.

This papal piety, in warm weather, was no very fragrant circumstance; so
I sought the open air again as fast as I was able. The serenity of the
evening--for the black huddle of clouds, which the late storms had
accumulated, were all melted away--tempted me to the ramparts. There, at
least, thought I to myself, I may range undisturbed, and talk with my
old friends the breezes, and address my discourse to the waves, and be
as romantic and fanciful as I please; but I had scarcely begun a poetic
apostrophe, before out flaunted a whole rank of officers, with ladies
and abbés and puppy dogs, singing, and flirting, and making such a
hubbub, that I had not one peaceful moment to observe the bright tints
of the western horizon, or enjoy those ideas of classic antiquity which
a calm sunset never fails to bring before my imagination.

Finding, therefore, no quiet abroad, I returned to my inn, and should
have gone immediately to bed, in hopes of relapsing into the bosom of
dreams and delusions; but the limbo I mentioned before grew so very
outrageous, that I was obliged to postpone my rest till sugarplums and
nursery eloquence had hushed it to repose. At length peace was restored,
and about eleven o’clock I fell into a slumber. My dreams anticipated
the classic scenes of Italy, the proposed term of my excursion.

Next morning I arose refreshed with these agreeable impressions. No
ideas, but such as Nemi and Albano suggested, haunted me whilst
travelling to Ghent. I neither heard the coarse dialect which was
talking around me, nor noticed the formal avenues and marshy country
which we passed. When we stopped to change horses, I closed my eyes upon
the dull prospect, and was transported immediately to those Grecian
solitudes which Theocritus so enchantingly describes.

To one so far gone in the poetic lore of ancient days, Ghent is not the
most likely place to recall his attention; and I know nothing more about
it, than that it is a large, ill-paved, plethoric, pompous-looking city,
with a decent proportion of convents and chapels, monuments, brazen
gates, and gilded marbles. In the great church were several pictures by
Rubens, so striking, so masterly, as to hold me broad awake; though, I
must own, there are moments when I could contentedly fall asleep in a
Flemish cathedral, for the mere chance of beholding in vision the temple
of Olympian Jupiter.

But I think I hear, at this moment, some grave and respectable personage
chiding my enthusiasm--“Really, sir, you had better stay at home, and
dream in your great chair, than give yourself the trouble of going post
through Europe, in search of places where to fall asleep. If Flanders
and Holland are to be dreamed over at this rate, you had better take
ship at once, and doze all the way to Italy.” Upon my word, I should not
have much objection to that scheme; and, if some enchanter would but
transport me in an instant to the summit of Ætna, anybody might slop
through the Low Countries that pleased.

Being, however, so far advanced, there is no retracting; and I am
resolved to journey along with Quiet and Content for my companions.
These two comfortable deities have, I believe, taken Flanders under
their especial protection; every step one advances discovering some new
proof of their influence. The neatness of the houses, and the universal
cleanliness of the villages, show plainly that their inhabitants live in
ease and good humour. All is still and peaceful in these fertile
lowlands: the eye meets nothing but round unmeaning faces at every door,
and harmless stupidity smiling at every window. The beasts, as placid as
their masters, graze on without any disturbance; and I scarcely
recollect to have heard one grunting swine or snarling mastiff during
my whole progress. Before every village is a wealthy dunghill, not at
all offensive, because but seldom disturbed; and there sows and porkers
bask in the sun, and wallow at their ease, till the hour of death and
bacon arrives.

But it is high time to lead you towards Antwerp. More rich pastures,
more ample fields of grain, more flourishing willows! A boundless plain
lies before this city, dotted with cows, and speckled with flowers; a
level whence its spires and quaint roofs are seen to advantage! The pale
colours of the sky, and a few gleams of watery sunshine, gave a true
Flemish cast to the scenery, and everything appeared so consistent, that
I had not a shadow of pretence to think myself asleep.

After crossing a broad expanse of river, edged on one side by beds of
osiers beautifully green, and on the other by gates and turrets
preposterously ugly, we came through several streets of lofty houses to
our inn. Its situation in the “Place de Meir,” a vast open space
surrounded by buildings above buildings, and roof above roof, has
something striking and singular. A tall gilt crucifix of bronze,
sculptured by Cortels of Malines,[1] adds to its splendour; and the
tops of some tufted trees, seen above a line of magnificent hotels, add
greatly to the effect of the perspective.

It was almost dusk when we arrived; and as I am very partial to new
objects discovered by this dubious, visionary light, I went immediately
a rambling. Not a sound disturbed my meditations: there were no groups
of squabbling children or talkative old women. The whole town seemed
retired into their inmost chambers; and I kept winding and turning
about, from street to street, and from alley to alley, without meeting a
single inhabitant. Now and then, indeed, one or two women in long cloaks
and mantles glided by at a distance; but their dress was so shroud-like,
and their whole appearance so ghostly, that I should have been afraid to
accost them. As night approached, the ranges of buildings grew more and
more dim, and the silence which reigned amongst them more awful. The
canals, which in some places intersect the streets, were likewise in
perfect solitude, and there was just light sufficient for me to observe
on the still waters the reflection of the structures above them. Except
two or three tapers glimmering through the casements, no one
circumstance indicated human existence. I might, without being thought
very romantic, have imagined myself in the city of petrified people
which Arabian fabulists are so fond of describing. Were any one to ask
my advice upon the subject of retirement, I should tell him--By all
means repair to Antwerp. No village amongst the Alps, or hermitage upon
Mount Lebanon, is less disturbed: you may pass your days in this great
city without being the least conscious of its sixty thousand
inhabitants, unless you visit the churches. There, indeed, are to be
heard a few devout whispers, and sometimes, to be sure, the bells make a
little chiming; but, walk about, as I do, in the twilights of midsummer,
and be assured your ears will be free from all molestation.

You can have no idea how many strange, amusing fancies played around me
whilst I wandered along; nor how delighted I was with the novelty of my
situation. But a few days ago, thought I within myself, I was in the
midst of all the tumult and uproar of London: now, as if by some magic
influence, I am transported to a city equally remarkable indeed for
streets and edifices, but whose inhabitants seem cast into a profound
repose. What a pity that we cannot borrow some small share of this
soporific disposition! It would temper that restless spirit which throws
us sometimes into such dreadful convulsions. However, let us not be too
precipitate in desiring so dead a calm; the time may arrive when, like
Antwerp, we may sink into the arms of forgetfulness; when a fine verdure
may carpet our Exchange, and passengers traverse the Strand without any
danger of being smothered in crowds or crushed by carriages.

Reflecting, in this manner, upon the silence of the place, contrasted
with the important bustle which formerly rendered it so famous, I
insensibly drew near to the cathedral, and found myself, before I was
aware, under its stupendous tower. It is difficult to conceive an object
more solemn or more imposing than this edifice at the hour I first
beheld it. Dark shades hindered my examining the lower galleries; their
elaborate carved work was invisible; nothing but huge masses of building
met my sight, and the tower, shooting up four hundred and sixty-six feet
in the air, received an additional importance from the gloom which
prevailed below. The sky being perfectly clear, several stars twinkled
through the mosaic of the pinnacles, and increased the charm of their
effect.

Whilst I was indulging my reveries, a ponderous bell struck ten, and
such a peal of chimes succeeded, as shook the whole edifice,
notwithstanding its bulk, and drove me away in a hurry. I need not say,
no mob obstructed my passage. I ran through a succession of streets,
free and unmolested, as if I had been skimming along over the downs of
Wiltshire. The voices of my servants conversing before the hotel were
the only sounds which the great “Place de Meir” echoed.

This characteristic stillness was the more pleasing, when I looked back
upon those scenes of outcry and horror which filled London but a week or
two ago, when danger was not confined to night only, and to the environs
of the capital, but haunted our streets at mid-day. Here, I could
wander over an entire city; stray by the port, and venture through the
most obscure alleys, without a single apprehension; without beholding a
sky red and portentous with the light of houses on fire, or hearing the
confusion of shouts and groans mingled with the reports of artillery. I
can assure you, I think myself very fortunate to have escaped the
possibility of another such week of desolation, and to be peaceably
lulled at Antwerp.



LETTER II.

     Visit to the cabinets of pictures in Antwerp.--Monsieur Van
     Lencren’s collection.--The Canon Knyff’s house and gallery of
     paintings.--The Canon himself.--His domestic felicity.--Revisit the
     cathedral.--Grand service in honour of St. John the
     Baptist.--Mynheer Van den Bosch, the organist’s astonishing flashes
     of execution.--Evening service in the cathedral.--Magical effect of
     the music of Jomelli.--Blighted avenues.--Slow travelling.--Enter
     the United Provinces.--Level scenery.--Chinese prospects.--Reach
     Meerdyke.--Arrival at the Hague.


Antwerp, 23rd June, 1780.

After breakfast this morning I began my pilgrimage to all the cabinets
of pictures in Antwerp. First, I went to Monsieur Van Lencren’s, who
possesses a suite of apartments, lined, from the base to the cornice,
with the rarest productions of the Flemish school. Heaven forbid I
should enter into a detail of their niceties! I might as well count the
dew-drops upon the most spangled of Van Huysum’s flower-pieces, or the
pimples on their possessor’s countenance; a very good sort of man,
indeed; but from whom I was not at all sorry to be delivered.

My joy was, however, of short duration, as a few minutes brought me into
the court-yard of the Canon Knyff’s habitation; a snug abode, well
furnished with ample fauteuils and orthodox couches. After viewing the
rooms on the first floor, we mounted an easy staircase, and entered an
ante-chamber, which they who delight in the imitations of art rather
than of nature, in the likenesses of joint stools and the portraits of
tankards, would esteem most capitally adorned: but it must be confessed,
that amongst these uninteresting performances are dispersed a few
striking Berghems and agreeable Polembergs. In the gallery adjoining,
two or three Rosa de Tivolis merit observation; and a large Teniers,
representing the Hermit St. Anthony surrounded by a malicious set of
imps and leering devilesses, is well calculated to display the whimsical
buffoonery of a Dutch imagination.

I was enjoying this strange medley, when the canon made his appearance;
and a most prepossessing figure he has, according to Flemish ideas. In
my humble opinion, his reverence looked a little muddled or so; and, to
be sure, the description I afterwards heard of his style of living
favours not a little my surmises. This worthy dignitary, what with his
private fortune and the good things of the church, enjoys a spanking
revenue, which he contrives to get rid of in the joys of the table and
the encouragement of the pencil.

His servants, perhaps, assist not a little in the expenditure of so
comfortable an income; the canon being upon a very social footing with
them all. At four o’clock in the afternoon, a select party attend him in
his coach to an ale-house about a league from the city; where a table,
well spread with jugs of beer and handsome cheeses, waits their arrival.
After enjoying this rural fare, the same equipage conducts them back
again, by all accounts, much faster than they came; which may well be
conceived, as the coachman is one of the brightest wits of the
entertainment.

My compliments, alas! were not much appreciated, you may suppose, by
this jovial personage. I said a few favourable words of Polemberg, and
offered up a small tribute of praise to the memory of Berghem; but, as I
could not prevail upon Mynheer Knyff to expand, I made one of my best
bows, and left him to the enjoyment of his domestic felicity.

In my way home, I looked into another cabinet, the greatest ornament of
which was a most sublime thistle by Snyders, of the heroic size, and so
faithfully imitated that I dare say no Ass could see it unmoved. At
length, it was lawful to return home; and as I positively refused
visiting any more cabinets in the afternoon, I sent for a harpsichord of
Rucker, and played myself quite out of the Netherlands.

It was late before I finished my musical excursion, and I took advantage
of this dusky moment to revisit the cathedral. A flight of starlings had
just pitched on one of the pinnacles of the tower, whose faint chirpings
were the only sounds that broke the evening stillness. Not a human form
appeared at any of the windows around; no footsteps were audible in the
opening before the grand entrance; and during the half hour I spent in
walking to and fro, one solitary Franciscan was the only creature that
accosted me. From him I learned that a grand service was to be performed
next day in honour of St. John the Baptist, and the best music in
Flanders would be called forth on the occasion, so I determined to stay
one day longer at Antwerp.

Having taken this resolution, I availed myself of a special invitation
from Mynheer Van den Bosch, the first organist of the place, and sat
next to him in his lofty perch during the celebration of high mass. The
service ended, I strayed about the aisles, and examined the innumerable
chapels which decorate them, whilst Mynheer Van den Bosch thundered and
lightened away upon his huge organ with fifty stops.

When the first flashes of execution had a little subsided, I took an
opportunity of surveying the celebrated Descent from the Cross. This has
ever been esteemed the master-piece of Rubens, which, large as it is,
they pretend here that Old Lewis Baboon[2] offered to cover with gold. A
swingeing St. Christopher, fording a brook with a child on his
shoulders, cannot fail of attracting attention. This colossal personage
is painted on the folding-doors which defend the grand effort of art
just mentioned from vulgar eyes; and here Rubens has selected a very
proper subject to display the gigantic boldness of his pencil.

After I had most dutifully surveyed all his productions in this church,
I walked half over Antwerp in quest of St. John’s relics, which were
moving about in procession. If my eyes were not much regaled by the
saint’s magnificence, my ears were greatly affected in the evening by
the music which sang forth his praises. The cathedral was crowded with
devotees, and perfumed with incense. A motet, in the lofty style of
Jomelli, performed with taste and feeling, transported me to Italian
climates; and I grieved, when a cessation dissolved the charm, to think
that I had still so many tramontane regions to pass before I could in
effect reach that classic country. Finding it was in vain to expect
preternatural interposition, and perceiving no conscious angel or
Loretto-vehicle waiting in some dark consecrated corner to bear me away,
I humbly returned to my hotel.

Monday, June 26th.--We were again upon the pavé, rattling and jumbling
along between clipped hedges and blighted avenues. The plagues of Egypt
have been renewed, one might almost imagine, in this country, by the
appearance of the oak trees: not a leaf have the insects spared. After
having had the displeasure of seeing no other objects for several hours
but these blasted rows, the scene changed to vast tracts of level
country, buried in sand and smothered with heath; the particular
character of which I had but too good an opportunity of intimately
knowing, as a tortoise might have kept pace with us without being once
out of breath.

Towards evening, we entered the dominions of the United Provinces, and
had all their glory of canals, treck-schuyts, and windmills, before us.
The minute neatness of the villages, their red roofs, and the lively
green of the willows which shade them, corresponded with the ideas I had
formed of Chinese prospects; a resemblance which was not diminished upon
viewing on every side the level scenery of enamelled meadows, with
stripes of clear water across them, and innumerable barges gliding
busily along. Nothing could be finer than the weather; it improved each
moment, as if propitious to my exotic fancies; and, at sun-set, not one
single cloud obscured the horizon. Several storks were parading by the
water-side, amongst flags and osiers; and, as far as the eye could
reach, large herds of beautifully spotted cattle were enjoying the
plenty of their pastures. I was perfectly in the environs of Canton, or
Ning Po, till we reached Meerdyke. You know fumigations are always the
current recipe in romance to break an enchantment; as soon, therefore,
as I left my carriage and entered my inn, the clouds of tobacco which
filled every one of its apartments dispersed my Chinese imaginations,
and reduced me in an instant to Holland.

Why should I enlarge upon my adventures at Meerdyke? To tell you that
its inhabitants are the most uncouth bipeds in the universe would be
nothing very new or entertaining; so let me at once pass over the
village, leave Rotterdam, and even Delft, that great parent of pottery,
and transport you with a wave of my pen to the Hague.

As the evening was rather warm, I immediately walked out to enjoy the
shade of the long avenue which leads to Scheveling, and proceeded to the
village on the sea coast, which terminates the perspective. Almost every
cottage door being open to catch the air, I had an opportunity of
looking into their neat apartments. Tables, shelves, earthenware, all
glisten with cleanliness; the country people were drinking tea, after
the fatigues of the day, and talking over its bargains and contrivances.

I left them to walk on the beach, and was so charmed with the vast azure
expanse of ocean, which opened suddenly upon me, that I remained there a
full half hour. More than two hundred vessels of different sizes were in
sight, the last sunbeam purpling their sails, and casting a path of
innumerable brilliants athwart the waves. What would I not have given to
follow this shining track! It might have conducted me straight to those
fortunate western climates, those happy isles which you are so fond of
painting, and I of dreaming about. But, unluckily, this passage was the
only one my neighbours the Dutch were ignorant of. It is true they have
islands rich in spices, and blessed with the sun’s particular attention,
but which their government, I am apt to imagine, renders by no means
fortunate.

Abandoning therefore all hopes of this adventurous voyage, I returned
towards the Hague, and looked into a country-house of the late Count
Bentinck, with parterres and bosquets by no means resembling, one should
conjecture, the gardens of the Hesperides. But, considering that the
whole group of trees, terraces, and verdure were in a manner created out
of hills of sand, the place may claim some portion of merit. The walks
and alleys have all the stiffness and formality which our ancestors
admired; but the intermediate spaces, being dotted with clumps and
sprinkled with flowers, are imagined in Holland to be in the English
style. An Englishman ought certainly to behold it with partial eyes,
since every possible attempt has been made to twist it into the taste of
his country.

I need not say how liberally I bestowed my encomiums on Count Bentinck’s
tasteful intentions; nor how happy I was, when I had duly serpentized
over his garden, to find myself once more in the grand avenue. All the
way home, I reflected upon the unyielding perseverance of the Dutch, who
raise gardens from heaps of sand, and cities out of the bosom of the
waters. I had, almost at the same moment, a whimsical proof of the
thrifty turn of this people; for just entering the town I met an
unwieldy fellow--not ill clad--airing his carcase in a one-dog chair.
The poor animal puffed and panted, Mynheer smoked, and gaped around him
with the most blessed indifference.



LETTER III.

     The Prince of Orange’s cabinet of paintings.--Temptation of St.
     Anthony, by Breughel.--Exquisite pictures by Berghem and
     Wouvermans.--Mean garrets stored with inestimable productions of
     the Indies.--Enamelled flasks of oriental essences.--Vision of the
     wardrobe of Hecuba.--Disenchantment.--Cabinet of natural
     history.--A day dream.--A delicious morsel.--Dinner at Sir Joseph
     Yorke’s.--Two honourable boobies.--The Great Wood.--Parterres of
     the Greffier Fagel.--Air poisoned by the sluggish canals.--Fishy
     locality of Dutch banquetting rooms.--Derivation of the inhabitants
     of Holland.--Origin and use of enormous galligaskins.--Escape from
     damp alleys and lazy waters.


30th June, 1780.

I dedicated the morning to the Prince of Orange’s cabinet of paintings
and curiosities both natural and artificial. Amongst the pictures which
amused me the most is a temptation of the holy hermit St. Anthony, by
Hell-fire Breughel, who has shown himself right worthy of the title; for
a more diabolical variety of imps never entered the human imagination.
Breughel has made his saint take refuge in a ditch filled with harpies
and creeping things innumerable, whose malice, one should think, would
have lost Job himself the reputation of patience. Castles of steel and
fiery turrets glare on every side, whence issue a band of junior devils.
These seem highly entertained with pinking poor Anthony, and whispering,
I warrant ye, filthy tales in his ear. Nothing can be more rueful than
the patient’s countenance; more forlorn than his beard; more piteous
than his eye, forming a strong contrast to the pert winks and insidious
glances of his persecutors; some of whom, I need not mention, are
evidently of the female kind.

But really I am quite ashamed of having detained you in such bad company
so long; and had I a moment to spare, you should be introduced to a
better set in this gallery, where some of the most exquisite Berghems
and Wouvermans I ever beheld would delight you for hours. I do not think
you would look much at the Polembergs; there are but two, and one of
them is very far from capital; in short, I am in a great hurry; so
pardon me, Carlo Cignani! if I do not do justice to your merit; and
forgive me, Potter! if I pass by your herds without leaving a tribute of
admiration.

Mynheer Van Something was as eager to precipitate my step as I was to
get out of the damps and perplexities of Sorgvliet yesterday evening;
so, mounting a creaking staircase, he led me to a suite of garretlike
apartments; which, considering the meanness of their exterior, I was
rather surprised to find stored with some of the most valuable
productions of the Indies. Gold cups enriched with gems, models of
Chinese palaces in ivory, glittering armour of Hindostan, and Japan
caskets, filled every corner of this awkward treasury. The most pleasing
of all its baubles in my estimation was a large coffer of most elaborate
workmanship, containing enamelled flasks of oriental essences, enough to
perfume a zennana. If disagreeable fumes, as I mentioned before,
dissolve enchantments, such aromatic oils have doubtless the power of
raising them; for, whilst I scented their fragrancy, I could have
persuaded myself, I was in the wardrobe of Hecuba,--

    “Where treasured odours breathed a costly scent.”

I saw, or seemed to see, the arched apartments, the procession of
matrons, the consecrated vestments: the very temple began to rise upon
my sight, when a sweltering Dutch porpoise approaching to make me a low
bow, his complaisance proved full as notorious as Satan’s, when,
according to Catholic legends, he took leave of Luther, that
disputatious heresiarch. No spell can resist a fumigation of this
nature; away fled palace, Hecuba, matrons, temple, &c. I looked up, and
lo! I was in a garret. As poetry is but too often connected with this
lofty situation, you will not wonder much at my flight. Being a little
recovered from it, I tottered down the staircase, entered the cabinets
of natural history, and was soon restored to my sober senses. A grave
hippopotamus contributed a good deal to their re-establishment.

The butterflies, I must needs confess, were very near leading me another
dance: I thought of their native hills and beloved flowers, on the
summits of Haynang and Nan-Hoa;[3] but the jargon which was gabbling all
around me prevented the excursion, and I summoned a decent share of
attention for that ample chamber which has been appropriated to bottled
snakes and pickled fœtuses.

After having enjoyed the same spectacle in the British Museum, no very
new or singular objects can be selected in this. One of the rarest
articles it contains is the representation in wax of a human head, most
dexterously flayed indeed! Rapturous encomiums have been bestowed by
amateurs on this performance. A German professor could hardly believe it
artificial; and, prompted by the love of truth, set his teeth in this
delicious morsel to be convinced of its reality. My faith was less
hazardously established; and I moved off, under the conviction that art
had never produced anything more horridly natural.

It was one o’clock before I got through the mineral kingdom; and another
hour passed before I could quit with decorum the regions of stuffed
birds and marine productions. At length my departure was allowable; and
I went to dine at Sir Joseph Yorke’s, with all nations and languages.
Amongst the company were two honourable boobies and their governor, all
from Ireland. The youngest, after plying me with a succession of
innocent questions, wished to be informed where I proposed spending the
carnival. “At Tunis,” was my answer. The questioner, not in the least
surprised, then asked who was to sing there? To which I replied,
“Farinelli.”

This settled the business to our mutual satisfaction; so after coffee I
strayed to the Great Wood, which, considering that it almost touches the
town with its boughs, is wonderfully forest-like. Not a branch being
ever permitted to be lopped, the oaks and beeches retain their natural
luxuriance. In some places their straight boles rise sixty feet without
a bough; in others, they are bent fantastically over the alleys, which
turn and wind about just as a painter would desire. I followed them with
eagerness and curiosity; sometimes deviating from my path amongst tufts
of fern and herbage.

In these cool retreats I could not believe myself near canals and
windmills; the Dutch formalities were all forgotten whilst contemplating
the broad masses of foliage above, and the wild flowers and grasses
below. Hares and rabbits scudded by me while I sat; and the birds were
chirping their evening song. Their preservation does credit to the
police of the country, which is so exact and well regulated as to suffer
no outrage within the precincts of this extensive wood, the depth and
thickness of which might otherwise seem calculated to favour half the
sins of a capital.

Relying upon this comfortable security, I lingered unmolested amongst
the beeches till late in the evening; then taking the nearest path, I
suffered myself, though not without regret, to be conducted out of this
fresh sylvan scene to the dusty, pompous parterres of the Greffier
Fagel. Every flower that wealth can purchase diffuses its perfume on one
side; whilst every stench a canal can exhale poisons the air on the
other. These sluggish puddles defy all the power of the United
Provinces, and retain the freedom of stinking in spite of any endeavour
to conquer their filthiness.

But perhaps I am too bold in my assertion; for I have no authority to
mention any attempts to purify these noxious pools. Who knows but their
odour is congenial to a Dutch constitution? One should be inclined to
this supposition by the numerous banquetting-rooms and pleasure-houses
which hang directly above their surface, and seem calculated on purpose
to enjoy them. If frogs were not excluded from the magistrature of their
country (and I cannot but think it a little hard that they are), one
should not wonder at this choice. Such burgomasters might erect their
pavilions in such situations; but, after all, I am not greatly
surprised at the fishiness of their site, since very slight authority
would persuade me there was a period when Holland was all water, and the
ancestors of the present inhabitants fish. A certain oysterishness of
eye and flabbiness of complexion, are almost proofs sufficient of this
aquatic descent: and pray tell me for what purpose are such galligaskins
as the Dutch burthen themselves with contrived, but to tuck up a
flouncing tail, and thus cloak the deformity of a dolphinlike
termination?

Having done penance for some time in the damp alleys which line the
borders of these lazy waters, I was led through corkscrew sand-walks to
a vast flat, sparingly scattered over with vegetation. There was no
temptation to puzzle myself in such a labyrinth; so taking advantage of
the lateness of the hour, and muttering a few complimentary promises of
returning at the first opportunity, I escaped the ennui of this endless
scrubbery, and got home, with the determination of being wiser and less
curious if ever my stars should bring me again to the Hague.



LETTER IV.

     Leave the Hague.--Leyden.--Wood near Haerlem.--Waddling
     fishermen.--Enter the town.--The great fair.--Riot and
     uproar.--Confusion of tongues.--Mine hostess.


Haerlem, July 1st, 1780.

The sky was clear and blue when we left the Hague, and we travelled
along a shady road for about an hour, when down sunk the carriage into a
sand-bed, and we were dragged along so slowly that I fell into a
profound repose. How long it lasted is not material; but when I awoke,
we were rumbling through Leyden. There is no need to write a syllable in
honour of this illustrious city: its praises have already been sung and
said by fifty professors, who have declaimed in its university, and
smoked in its gardens. Let us get out of it as fast as we can, and
breathe the cool air of the wood near Haerlem.

Here we arrived just as day declined: hay was making in the fields, and
perfumed the country far and wide with its reviving fragrance. I
promised myself a sentimental saunter in the groves, took up Gesner, and
began to have pretty pastoral ideas as I walked forward; but instead of
nymphs dispersed over the meadows, I met a gang of waddling fishermen.
Letting fall the garlands I had wreathed for the shepherdesses, I jumped
into the carriage, and was driven off to the town. Every avenue to it
swarmed with people, whose bustle and agitation seemed to announce that
something extraordinary was going forward. Upon inquiry I found it was
the great fair at Haerlem; and before we had advanced much farther, our
carriage was surrounded by idlers and gingerbread-eaters of all
denominations. Passing the gate, we came to a cluster of little
illuminated booths beneath a grove, glittering with toys and
looking-glasses. It was not without difficulty that we reached our inn,
and then the plague was to procure chambers; at last we were
accommodated, and the first moment I could call my own has been
dedicated to you.

You will not be surprised at the nonsense I have written, since I tell
you the scene of the riot and uproar from whence it bears date. At this
very moment the confused murmur of voices and music stops all regular
proceedings: old women and children tattling; apes, bears, and
show-boxes under the windows; French rattling, English swearing,
outrageous Italians, frisking minstrels; _tambours de basque_ at every
corner; myself distracted; a confounded squabble of cooks and haranguing
German couriers just arrived, their masters following open-mouthed,
nothing to eat, the steam of ham and flesh-pots all the while provoking
their appetite; squeaking chamber-maids in the galleries above, and mine
hostess below, half inclined to receive the golden solicitations of
certain beauties for admittance, but positively refusing them the moment
some creditable personage appears; eleven o’clock strikes; half the
lights in the fair are extinguished; scruples grow faint; and mammon
gains the victory.



LETTER V.

     Amsterdam.--The road to Utrecht.--Country-houses and gardens.--Neat
     enclosures.--Comfortable parties.--Ladies and Lapdogs.--Arrival at
     Utrecht.--Moravian establishment--The woods.--Shops.--Celestial
     love.--Musical Sempstresses.--Return to Utrecht.


Utrecht, 2d July, 1780.

Well, thank Heaven! Amsterdam is behind us; how I got thither signifies
not one farthing; it was all along a canal, as usual. The weather was
hot enough to broil an inhabitant of Bengal; and the odours, exhaling
from every quarter, sufficiently powerful to regale the nose of a
Hottentot.

Under these pungent circumstances we entered the great city. The
Stadt-huys being the only cool place it contained, I repaired thither as
fast as the heat permitted, and walked in a lofty marble hall,
magnificently coved, till the dinner was ready at the inn. That
despatched, we set off for Utrecht. Both sides of the way are lined
with the country-houses and gardens of opulent citizens, as fine as gilt
statues and clipped hedges can make them. Their number is quite
astonishing: from Amsterdam to Utrecht, full thirty miles, we beheld no
other objects than endless avenues and stiff parterres scrawled and
flourished in patterns like the embroidery of an old maid’s work-bag.
Notwithstanding this formal taste, I could not help admiring the
neatness and arrangement of every inclosure, enlivened by a profusion of
flowers, and decked with arbours, beneath which a vast number of
consequential personages were solacing themselves after the heat of the
day. Each lusthuys we passed contained some comfortable party dozing
over their pipes, or angling in the muddy fish-ponds below. Scarce an
avenue but swarmed with female josses; little squat pug-dogs waddling at
their sides, the attributes, I suppose, of these fair divinities.

But let us leave them to loiter thus amiably in their Elysian groves,
and arrive at Utrecht; which, as nothing very remarkable claimed my
attention, I hastily quitted to visit a Moravian establishment at Ziest,
in its neighbourhood. The chapel, a large house, late the habitation of
Count Zinzendorf, and a range of apartments filled with the holy
fraternity, are totally wrapped in dark groves, overgrown with weeds,
amongst which some damsels were straggling, under the immediate
protection of their pious brethren.

Traversing the woods, we found ourselves in a large court, built round
with brick edifices, the grass-plats in a deplorable way, and one ragged
goat, their only inhabitant, on a little expiatory scheme, perhaps, for
the failings of the fraternity. I left this poor animal to ruminate in
solitude, and followed my guide into a series of shops furnished with
gew-gaws and trinkets said to be manufactured by the female part of the
society. Much cannot be boasted of their handy-works: I expressed a wish
to see some of these industrious fair ones; but, upon receiving no
answer, found this was a subject of which there was no discourse.

Consoling myself as well as I was able, I put myself under the guidance
of another slovenly disciple, who showed me the chapel, and harangued
very pathetically upon celestial love. In my way thither, I caught a
glimpse of some pretty sempstresses, warbling melodious hymns as they
sat needling and thimbling at their windows above. I had a great
inclination to approach this busy group, but the roll of a brother’s eye
corrected me.

Reflecting upon my unworthiness, I retired from the consecrated
buildings, and was driven back to Utrecht, not a little amused with my
expedition. If you are as well disposed to be pleased as I was, I shall
esteem myself very lucky, and not repent sending you so hasty a
narrative.



LETTER VI.

     Arrival at Aix-la-Chapelle.--Glimpse of a dingy grove.--Melancholy
     saunterers.--Dusseldorf Gallery.--Nocturnal depredators.--Arrival
     at Cologne.--Shrine of the Three Wise Sovereigns.--Peregrinations
     of their beatified bones.--Road to Bonn.--Delights of
     Catholicism.--Azure mountains.--Visionary palaces.


We arrived at Aix-la-Chapelle about ten at night, and saw the mouldering
turrets of that once illustrious capital by the help of a candle and
lantern. An old woman at the gate asked our names (for not a single
soldier appeared); and after traversing a number of superannuated
streets without perceiving the least trace of Charlemagne or his
Paladins, we procured comfortable though not magnificent apartments, and
slept most unheroically sound, till it was time to set forward for
Dusseldorf.

July 8th.--As we were driven out of the town, I caught a glimpse of a
grove, hemmed in by dingy buildings, where a few water-drinkers were
sauntering along to the sound of some rueful French horns; the wan
greenish light admitted through the foliage made them look like unhappy
souls condemned to an eternal lounge for having trifled away their
existence. It was not with much regret that I left such a party behind;
and, after experiencing the vicissitudes of good roads and rumbling
pavements, crossed the Rhine and travelled on to Dusseldorf.

Nothing but the famous gallery of paintings could invite strangers to
stay a moment within its walls; more crooked streets, more indifferent
houses, one seldom meets with; except soldiers, not a living creature
moving about them; and at night a complete regiment of bugs “marked me
for their own.” Thus I lay, at once the seat of war and the conquest of
these detestable animals, till early in the morning (Sunday, July 9th),
when Morpheus, compassionating my sufferings, opened the ivory gates of
his empire, and freed his votary from the most unconscionable vermin
ever engendered. In humble prose, I fell fast asleep; and remained
quiet, in defiance of my adversaries, till it was time to survey the
cabinet.

This collection is displayed in five large galleries, and contains some
valuable productions of the Italian school; but the room most boasted of
is that which Rubens has filled with no less than three enormous
representations of the last day, where an innumerable host of sinners
are exhibited as striving in vain to avoid the tangles of the devil’s
tail. The woes of several fat luxurious souls are rendered in the
highest gusto. Satan’s dispute with some brawny concubines, whom he is
lugging off in spite of all their resistance, cannot be too much admired
by those who approve this class of subjects, and think such strange
embroglios in the least calculated to raise a sublime or a religious
idea.

For my own part, I turned from them with disgust, and hastened to
contemplate a holy family by Camillo Procaccini, in another apartment.
The brightest imagination can never conceive any figure more graceful
than that of the young Jesus; and if ever I beheld an inspired
countenance or celestial features, it was here: but to attempt conveying
in words what the pencil alone can express, would be only reversing the
absurdity of many a master in the gallery who aims to represent those
ideas by the pencil which language alone is able to describe. Should
you admit this opinion, you will not be surprised at my passing such a
multitude of renowned pictures unnoticed; nor at my bringing you out of
the cabinet without deluging ten pages with criticisms in the style of
the ingenious Lady Miller.

As I had spent so much time in the gallery, the day was too far advanced
to think of travelling to Cologne; I was therefore obliged to put myself
once more under the dominion of the most inveterate bugs in the
universe. This government, like many others, made but an indifferent use
of its power, and the subject suffering accordingly was extremely
rejoiced at flying from his persecutors to Cologne.

July 10th.--Clouds of dust hindered my making any remarks on the
exterior of this celebrated city; but if its appearance be not more
beautiful from without than within, I defy the most courteous compiler
of geographical dictionaries to launch forth very warmly in its praise.
But of what avail are stately palaces, broad streets, or airy markets,
to a town which can boast of such a treasure as the bodies of those
three wise sovereigns who were star-led to Bethlehem? Is not this
circumstance enough to procure it every kind of respect? I really
believe so, from the pious and dignified contentment of its inhabitants.
They care not a hair of an ass’s ear whether their houses be gloomy and
ill-contrived, their pavements overgrown with weeds, and their shops
half choked up with filthiness, provided the carcasses of Gaspar,
Melchior, and Balthazar might be preserved with proper decorum. Nothing,
to be sure, can be richer than the shrine which contains these precious
relics. I paid my devotions before it the moment I arrived; this step
was inevitable: had I omitted it, not a soul in Cologne but would have
cursed me for a Pagan.

Do you not wonder at hearing of these venerable bodies so far from their
native country? I thought them snug under some Arabian cupola ten feet
deep in spice; but who can tell what is to become of one a few ages
hence? Who knows but the Emperor of Morocco may be canonized some future
day in Lapland? I asked, of course, how in the name of miracles they
came hither? but found no story of a supernatural conveyance. It seems
that great collectress of relics, the holy Empress Helena, first routed
them out: then they were packed off to Rome. King Alaric, having no
grace, bundled them down to Milan; where they remained till it pleased
Heaven to inspire an ancient archbishop with the fervent wish of
depositing them at Cologne; there these skeletons were taken into the
most especial consideration, crowned with jewels and filigreed with
gold. Never were skulls more elegantly mounted; and I doubt whether
Odin’s buffet could exhibit so fine an assortment. The chapel containing
these beatified bones is placed in a dark extremity of the cathedral.
Several golden lamps gleam along the polished marbles with which it is
adorned, and afford just light enough to read the following monkish
inscription:--

    “CORPORA SANCTORUM RECUBANT HIC TERNA MAGORUM:
      EX HIS SUBLATUM NIHIL EST ALIBIVE LOCATUM.”

After I had satisfied my curiosity with respect to the peregrinations of
the consecrated skeletons, I examined their shrine; and was rather
surprised to find it not only enriched with barbaric gold and pearl, but
covered with cameos and intaglios of the best antique sculpture. Many an
impious emperor and gross Silenus, many a wanton nymph and frantic
bacchanal, figure in the same range with the statues of saints and
evangelists. How St. Helena could tolerate such a mixed assembly (for
the shrine, they say, was formed under her auspices) surpasses my
comprehension. Perhaps you will say, it is no great matter; and give me
a hint to move out of the chapel, lest the three kings and their star
should lead me quite out of my way. Very well; I think I had better stop
in time, to tell you, without further excursion, that we set off after
dinner for Bonn.

Our road-side was lined with beggarly children, high convent walls, and
scarecrow crucifixes, lubberly monks, dejected peasants, and all the
delights of Catholicism. Such scenery not engaging a share of my
attention, I kept gazing at the azure irregular mountains which bounded
our view, and in thought was already transported to their summits. Vast
and wild were the prospects I surveyed from my imaginary exaltation, and
innumerable the chimeras which trotted in my brain. Under their
capricious influence my fancy built castles and capitols in the clouds
with all the extravaganza of Piranesi. The magnificence and variety of
my aërial structures hindered my thinking the way long. I was walking
with a crowd of phantoms upon their terraces, when the carriage made a
halt. Immediately descending the innumerable flights of steps which
divide such lofty edifices from the lower world, I entered the inn at
Bonn, and was shown into an apartment which commands the chief front of
the Elector’s residence. You may guess how contemptible it appeared to
one just returned from palaces bedecked with all the pomp of visionary
splendour. In other respects I saw it at a very favourable moment, for
the twilight, shading the whole façade, concealed its plastered walls
and painted columns.



LETTER VII.

     Borders of the Rhine.--Richly picturesque road from Bonn to
     Andernach.--Scheme for a floating village.--Coblentz.--A winding
     valley.--The river Lahn.--Ems.--The planet.--A supposed
     Apparition.--A little sequestered Paradise.


July 11, 1780.

Let those who delight in picturesque country repair to the borders of
the Rhine, and follow the road from Bonn to Coblentz. In some places it
is suspended like a cornice above the waters; in others, it winds behind
lofty steeps and broken acclivities, shaded by woods and clothed with an
endless variety of plants and flowers. Several green paths lead amongst
this vegetation to the summits of the rocks, which often serve as the
foundation of abbeys and castles, whose lofty roofs and spires, rising
above the cliffs, impress passengers with ideas of their grandeur, that
might probably vanish upon a nearer approach. Not choosing to lose any
prejudice in their favour, I kept a respectful distance whenever I left
my carriage, and walked on the banks of the river.

Just before we came to Andernach, an antiquated town with strange
morisco-looking towers, I spied a raft, at least three hundred feet in
length, on which ten or twelve cottages were erected, and a great many
people employed in sawing wood. The women sat spinning at their doors,
whilst their children played among the water-lilies that bloomed in
abundance on the edge of the stream. A smoke, rising from one of these
aquatic habitations, partially obscured the mountains beyond, and added
not a little to their effect.

Altogether, the scene was so novel and amusing, that I sat half an hour
contemplating it from an eminence under the shade of some leafy walnuts;
and should like extremely to build a moveable village, people it with my
friends, and so go floating about from island to island, and from one
woody coast of the Rhine to another. Would you dislike such a party? I
am much deceived, or you would be the first to explore the shady
promontories beneath which we should be wafted along.

But I do not think you would find Coblentz, where we were obliged to
take up our night’s lodging, much to your taste. It is a mean, dirty
assemblage of plastered houses, striped with paint, and set off with
wooden galleries, in the delectable taste of old St. Giles’s. Above, on
a rock, stands the palace of the Elector, which seems to be remarkable
for nothing except situation. I did not bestow many looks on this
structure whilst ascending the mountain across which our road to Mayence
conducted us.

July 12.--Having attained the summit, we discovered a vast, irregular
range of country, and advancing, found ourselves amongst downs purpled
with thyme and bounded by forests. This sort of prospect extending for
several leagues, I walked on the turf, and inhaled with avidity the
fresh gales that blew over its herbage, till I came to a steep slope
overgrown with privet and a variety of luxuriant shrubs in blossom. A
cloudless sky and bright sunshine made me rather loth to move on; but
the charms of the landscape, increasing every instant, drew me forward.

I had not gone far, before a winding valley discovered itself, inclosed
by rocks and mountains clothed to their very summits with the thickest
woods. A broad river, flowing at the base of the cliffs, reflected the
impending vegetation, and looked so calm and glassy that I was
determined to be better acquainted with it. For this purpose we
descended by a zigzag path into the vale, and making the best of our way
on the banks of the Lahn (for so is the river called) came suddenly upon
the town of Ems, famous in mineral story; where, finding very good
lodgings, we took up our abode, and led an Indian life amongst the wilds
and mountains.

After supper I walked on a smooth lawn by the river, to observe the moon
journeying through a world of silver clouds that lay dispersed over the
face of the heavens. It was a mild genial evening; every mountain cast
its broad shadow on the surface of the stream; lights twinkled afar off
on the hills; they burnt in silence. All were asleep, except a female
figure in white, with glow-worms shining in her hair. She kept moving
disconsolately about; sometimes I heard her sigh; and if apparitions
sigh, this must have been an apparition.

July 13.--The pure air of the morning invited me abroad at an early
hour. Hiring a skiff, I rowed about a mile down the stream, and landed
on a sloping meadow, level with the waters, and newly mown. Heaps of hay
still lay dispersed under the copses which hemmed in on every side this
little sequestered paradise. What a spot for a tent! I could encamp here
for months, and never be tired. Not a day would pass by without
discovering some untrodden pasture, some unsuspected vale, where I might
remain among woods and precipices lost and forgotten. I would give you,
and two or three more, the clue of my labyrinth: nobody else should be
conscious even of its entrance. Full of such agreeable dreams, I rambled
about the meads, scarcely aware which way I was going; sometimes a
spangled fly led me astray, and, oftener, my own strange fancies.
Between both, I was perfectly bewildered, and should never have found
my boat again, had not an old German naturalist, who was collecting
fossils on the cliffs, directed me to it.

When I got home it was growing late, and I now began to perceive that I
had taken no refreshment, except the perfume of the hay and a few wood
strawberries; airy diet, you will observe, for one not yet received into
the realms of Ginnistan.



LETTER VIII.

     Inveterate Idlers.--The planet Orloff and his satellites.--A
     Storm--Scared women.--A dreary Forest.--Village of
     Wiesbaden.--Manheim.--Ulm.--The Danube--unlimited plains on its
     margin.--Augsburg.--Sketch of the Town.--Pomposities of the Town
     House.


Ems, July 14.

I have just made a discovery, that this place is as full of idlers and
water-drinkers as their Highnesses of Orange and Hesse Darmstadt can
desire; for to them accrue all the profits of its salubrious fountains.
I protest, I knew nothing of all this yesterday, so entirely was I taken
up with the rocks and meadows; and conceived no chance of meeting either
card or billiard players in their solitudes. Both however abound at Ems,
unconscious of the bold scenery in their neighbourhood, and totally
insensible to its charms. They had no notion, not they, of admiring
barren crags and precipices, where even the Lord would lose his way, as
a clumsy lubber decorated with stars and orders very ingeniously
observed to me; nor could they form the least conception of any pleasure
there was in climbing like a goat amongst the cliffs, and then diving
into woods and recesses where the sun had never penetrated; where there
were neither card-tables prepared nor sideboards garnished; no _jambon
de Mayence_ in waiting; no supply of pipes, nor any of the commonest
delights, to be met with in the commonest taverns.

To all this I acquiesced with most perfect submission, but immediately
left the orator to entertain a circle of antiquated dames and
weather-beaten officers who were gathering around him. Scarcely had I
turned my back upon this polite assembly, when _Monsieur
l’Administrateur des bains_, a fine pompous fellow, who had been _maitre
d’hôtel_ in a great German family, came forward purposely to acquaint
me, I suppose, that their baths had the honour of possessing Prince
Orloff, “_avec sa crande maidresse, son shamperlan, et guelgues tames
donneur_:” moreover, that his Highness came hither to refresh himself
after his laborious employments at the Court of St. Petersburgh, and
expected (_grace aux eaux_!) to return to the domains his august
sovereign had lately bestowed upon him, perfectly regenerated.

Wishing Monsieur d’Orloff all possible success, I should have left the
company at a greater distance, had not a violent shower stopped my
career, and obliged me to return to my apartment. The rain growing
heavier, intercepted the prospect of the mountains, and spread such a
gloom over the vale as sank my spirits fifty degrees; to which a close
foggy atmosphere not a little contributed. Towards night the clouds
assumed a more formidable aspect; thunder rolled along the distant
cliffs, and torrents began to run down the steeps. At intervals a blue
flash of lightning discovered the agitated surface of the stream, and
two or three scared women rushing through the storm, and calling all the
saints in Paradise to their assistance.

Things were in this state, when the orator who had harangued so
brilliantly on the folly of ascending mountains, bounced into the room,
and regaled my ears with a woeful narration of murders which had
happened the other day on the precise road I was to follow the next
morning.

“Sir,” said he, “your route is, to be sure, very perilous: on the left
you have a chasm, down which, should your horses take the smallest
alarm, you are infallibly precipitated; to the right hangs an impervious
wood, and there, sir, I can assure you, are wolves enough to devour a
regiment; a little farther on, you cross a desolate tract of forest
land, the roads so deep and broken, that if you go ten paces in as many
minutes you may think yourself fortunate. There lurk the most savage
banditti in Europe, lately irritated by the Prince of Orange’s
proscription; and so desperate, that if they make an attack, you can
expect no mercy. Should you venture through this hazardous district
to-morrow, you will, in all probability, meet a company of people who
have just left the town to search for the mangled bodies of their
relations; but, for Heaven’s sake, sir, if you value your life, do not
suffer an idle curiosity to lead you over such dangerous regions,
however picturesque their appearance.”

It was almost nine o’clock before my kind adviser ceased inspiring me
with terrors; then, finding myself at liberty, I retired to bed, not
under the most agreeable impressions.

Early in the morning we set forward; and proceeding along the edge of
the precipices I had been forewarned of, journeyed through the forest
which had so recently been the scene of murders and depredations. At
length, after winding several hours amongst its dreary avenues, we
emerged into open daylight. A few minutes more brought us safe to the
village of Wiesbaden, where we slept in peace and tranquillity.

July 16.--Our apprehensions being entirely dispersed, we rose much
refreshed; and passing through Mayence, Oppenheim, and Worms, travelled
gaily over the plain in which Manheim is situated. The sun set before we
arrived there.

Numbers of well-dressed people were amusing themselves with music and
fireworks in the squares and open spaces; other groups appeared
conversing in circles before their doors, and enjoying the serenity of
the evening. Almost every window bloomed with carnations; and we could
hardly cross a street without hearing the sound of music. A scene of
such happiness and refinement formed a most agreeable contrast to the
dismalities we had left behind. All around was security and contentment
in their most engaging attire.

July 20.--After travelling a post or two, we came in sight of a green
moor, of vast extent, with insulated woods and villages; here and there
the Danube sweeping majestically along, and the city of Ulm rising upon
its banks. The fields in the neighbourhood of the town were overspread
with cloths bleaching in the sun, and waiting for barks, which convey
them down the great river in twelve days to Vienna, and thence, through
Hungary, into the midst of the Turkish empire.

You never saw a brighter sky nor more glowing clouds than those which
gilded our horizon. For ten miles we beheld no other objects than smooth
unlimited levels interspersed with thickets of oak, beyond which
appeared a long series of mountains. Such were the very spots for
youthful games and exercises, open spaces for the race, and spreading
shades to skreen the spectators.

Father Lafiteau tells us, there are many such vast and flowery Savannahs
in the interior of America, to which the roving tribes of Indians
repair once or twice in a century to settle the rights of the chase, and
lead their solemn dances; and so deep an impression do these assemblies
leave on the minds of the savages, that the highest ideas they entertain
of future felicity consist in the perpetual enjoyment of songs and
dances upon the green boundless lawns of their elysium. In the midst of
these visionary plains rises the abode of Ateantsic, encircled by choirs
of departed chieftains leaping in cadence to the sound of spears as they
ring on the shell of the tortoise. Their favourite attendants, long
separated from them while on earth, are restored again in this ethereal
region, and skim freely over the vast level space; now, hailing one
group of beloved friends; and now, another. Mortals newly ushered by
death into this world of pure blue sky and boundless meads, see the
long-lost objects of their affection advancing to meet them, whilst
flights of familiar birds, the purveyors of many an earthly chase, once
more attend their progress, and the shades of their faithful dogs seem
coursing each other below. The whole region is filled with low murmurs
and tinkling sounds, which increase in melody as its new denizens
proceed, who, at length, unable to resist the thrilling music, spring
forward in ecstasies to join the eternal round.

A share of this celestial transport seemed communicated to me whilst my
eyes wandered over the plains, which imagination widened and extended in
proportion as the twilight prevailed, and so fully abandoned was I to
the illusion of the moment, that I did not for several minutes perceive
our arrival at Günzburg; whence we proceeded the next morning (July 21)
to Augsburg, and rambled about this renowned city till evening. The
colossal paintings on the walls of almost every considerable building
gave it a strange air, which pleases upon the score of novelty.

Having passed a number of streets decorated in this exotic manner, we
found ourselves suddenly before the public hall, by a noble statue of
Augustus; which way soever we turned, our eyes met some remarkable
edifice, or marble basin into which several groups of sculptured
river-gods pour a profusion of waters. These stately fountains and
bronze statues, the extraordinary size and loftiness of the buildings,
the towers rising in perspective, and the Doric portal of the
town-house, answered in some measure the idea Montfaucon gives us of
the scene of an ancient tragedy. Whenever a pompous Flemish painter
attempts a representation of Troy or Babylon, and displays in his
back-ground those streets of palaces described in the Iliad, Augsburg,
or some such city, may easily be traced. Frequently a corner of Antwerp
discovers itself; and sometimes, above a Corinthian portico, rises a
Gothic spire: just such a jumble may be viewed from the statue of
Augustus, under which I remained till the concierge came, who was to
open the gates of the town-house and show me its magnificent hall.

I wished for you exceedingly when ascending a flight of a hundred steps;
I entered it through a portal, supported by tall pillars and crowned
with a majestic pediment. Upon advancing, I discovered five more
entrances equally grand, with golden figures of guardian genii leaning
over the entablature; and saw, through a range of windows, each above
thirty feet high, and nearly level with the marble pavement, the whole
city, with all its roofs and spires, beneath my feet. The pillars,
cornices, and panels of this striking apartment are uniformly tinged
with brown and gold; and the ceiling, enriched with emblematical
paintings and innumerable canopies and pendents of carved work, casts a
very magisterial shade. Upon the whole, I should not be surprised at a
burgomaster assuming a formidable dignity in such a room.

I must confess it had a somewhat similar effect upon me; and I descended
the flight of steps with as much pomposity as if on the point of giving
audience to the Queen of Sheba. It happened to be a high festival, and
half the inhabitants of Augsburg were gathered together in the opening
before their hall; the greatest numbers, especially the women, still
exhibiting the very dresses which Hollar engraved. My lofty gait imposed
upon this primitive assembly, which receded to give me passage with as
much silent respect as if I had really been the wise sovereign of
Israel. When I got home, an execrable sourcroutish supper was served up
to my majesty; I scolded in an unroyal style, and soon convinced myself
I was no longer Solomon.



LETTER IX.

     Extensive woods of fir in Bavaria.--Grand fair at Munich.--The
     Elector’s country palace.--Court
     Ladies.--Fountains.--Costume.--Garden and tea-room.--Hoydening
     festivities there.--The Palace and Chapel.--Gorgeous riches of the
     latter.--St. Peter’s thumb.--The Elector’s collection of
     pictures.--The Churches.--Hubbub and confusion of the Fair.--Wild
     tract of country.--Village of Wolfrathshausen.--Perpetual
     forests.--A Tempest.--A night at a cottage.


July 22.

Joy to the Electors of Bavaria! for preserving such extensive woods of
fir in their dominions as shade over the chief part of the road from
Augsburg to Munich. Near the last-mentioned city, I cannot boast of the
scenery changing to advantage. Instead of flourishing woods and verdure,
we beheld a parched dreary flat, diversified by fields of withering
barley, and stunted avenues drawn formally across them; now and then a
stagnant pool, and sometimes a dunghill, by way of regale. However, the
wild rocks of the Tyrol terminate the view, and to them imagination may
fly, and ramble amidst springs and lilies of her own creation. I speak
from authority, having had the delight of anticipating an evening in
this romantic style.

Tuesday next is the grand fair at Munich, with horse-races and
junketings: a piece of news I was but too soon acquainted with; for the
moment we entered the town, good-natured creatures from all quarters
advised us to get out of it; since traders and harlequins had filled
every corner of the place, and there was not a lodging to be procured.
The inns, to be sure, were hives of industrious animals sorting their
merchandise, and preparing their goods for sale. Yet, in spite of
difficulties, we got possession of a quiet apartment.

July 23.--We were driven in the evening to Nymphenburg, the Elector’s
country palace, the bosquets, jets-d’eaux, and parterres of which are
the pride of the Bavarians. The principal platform is all of a glitter
with gilded Cupids and shining serpents spouting at every pore. Beds of
poppies, hollyhocks, scarlet lychnis, and other flame-coloured flowers,
border the edge of the walks, which extend till the perspective appears
to meet and swarm with ladies and gentlemen in party-coloured raiment.
The queen of Golconda’s gardens in a French opera are scarcely more
gaudy and artificial. Unluckily too, the evening was fine, and the sun
so powerful that we were half roasted before we could cross the great
avenue and enter the thickets, which barely conceal a very splendid
hermitage, where we joined Mr. and Mrs. Trevor, and a party of
fashionable Bavarians.

Amongst the ladies was Madame la Comtesse, I forget who, a production of
the venerable Haslang, with her daughter, Madame de Baumgarten, who has
the honour of leading the Elector in her chains. These goddesses
stepping into a car, vulgarly called a cariole, the mortals followed and
explored alley after alley and pavilion after pavilion. Then, having
viewed Pagodenburg, which is, as they told me, all Chinese; and
Marienburg, which is most assuredly all tinsel; we paraded by a variety
of fountains in full squirt, and though they certainly did their best
(for many were set agoing on purpose) I cannot say I greatly admired
them.

The ladies were very gaily attired, and the gentlemen, as smart as
swords, bags, and pretty clothes could make them, looked exactly like
the fine people one sees represented on Dresden porcelain. Thus we kept
walking genteelly about the orangery, till the carriage drew up and
conveyed us to Mr. Trevor’s.

Immediately after supper, we drove once more out of town, to a garden
and tea-room, where all degrees and ages dance jovially together till
morning. Whilst one party wheel briskly away in the waltz, another amuse
themselves in a corner with cold meat and rhenish. That despatched, out
they whisk amongst the dancers, with an impetuosity and liveliness I
little expected to have found in Bavaria. After turning round and round,
with a rapidity that is quite astounding to an English dancer, the music
changes to a slower movement, and then follows a succession of zig-zag
minuets, performed by old and young, straight and crooked, noble and
plebeian, all at once, from one end of the room to the other. Tallow
candles snuffing and stinking, dishes changing at the risk of showering
down upon you their savoury contents, heads scratching, and all sorts of
performances going forward at the same moment; the flutes, oboes, and
bassoons, snorting, grunting, and whining with peculiar emphasis; now
fast, now slow, just as Variety commands, who seems to rule the
ceremonial of this motley assembly, where every distinction of rank and
privilege is totally forgotten. Once a week, on Sundays that is to say,
the rooms are open, and Monday is generally far advanced before they are
deserted. If good humour and coarse merriment are all that people
desire, here they are to be found in perfection.

July 24.--Custom condemned us to visit the palace, which glares with
looking-glass, gilding, and furbelowed flounces of cut velvet, most
sumptuously fringed and spangled. The chapel, though small, is richer
than anything Crœsus ever possessed, let them say what they will. Not
a corner but shines with gold, diamonds, and scraps of martyrdom studded
with jewels. I had the delight of treading amethysts and the richest
gems under foot, which, if you recollect, Apuleius[4] thinks such
supreme felicity. Alas! I was quite unworthy of the honour, and had much
rather have trodden the turf of the mountains. Mammon would never have
taken his eyes off the pavement; mine soon left the contemplation of it
and fixed on St. Peter’s thumb, enshrined with a degree of elegance, and
adorned by some malapert enthusiast with several of the most delicate
antique cameos I ever beheld; the subjects, Ledas and sleeping Venuses,
are a little too pagan, one should think, for an apostle’s finger.

From this precious repository we were conducted through the public
garden to a large hall, where part of the Elector’s collection is piled
up, till a gallery can be finished for its reception. It was matter of
great favour to view, in this state, the pieces that compose it, a very
imperfect one too, since some of the best were under operation. But I
would not upon any account have missed the sight of Rubens’s Massacre of
the Innocents. Such expressive horrors were never yet transferred to
canvass. Moloch himself might have gazed at them with pleasure.

After dinner we were led round the churches; and if you are as much
tired with reading my voluminous descriptions, as I was with the
continual repetition of altars and reliquaries, the Lord have mercy upon
you! However, your delivery draws near. The post is going out, and
to-morrow we shall begin to mount the cliffs of the Tyrol; but, do not
be afraid of any long-winded epistles from their summits: I shall be too
well employed in ascending them.

July 25.--The noise of the people thronging to the fair did not allow me
to slumber very long in the morning. When I got up, every street was
crowded with Jews and mountebanks, holding forth and driving their
bargains in all the guttural hoarseness of the Bavarian dialect. Vast
quantities of rich merchandise glittered in the shops as we passed to
the gates. Heaps of fruit and sweetmeats set half the grandams and
infants in the place cackling with felicity.

Mighty glad was I to make my escape; and in about an hour or two, we
entered a wild tract of country, not unlike the skirts of a princely
park. A little farther on stands a cluster of cottages, where we stopped
to give our horses some refreshment, and were pestered with swarms of
flies, most probably journeying to Munich fair, there to feast upon
sugared tarts and honied gingerbread.

The next post brought us over hill and dale, grove and meadow, to a
narrow plain, watered by rivulets and surrounded by cliffs, under which
lies scattered the village of Wolfrathshausen, consisting of several
remarkably large cottages, built entirely of fir, with strange galleries
projecting from them. Nothing can be neater than the carpentry of these
complicated edifices, nor more solid than their construction; many of
them looked as if they had braved the torrents which fell from the
mountains a century ago; and, if one may judge from the hoary appearance
of the inhabitants, here are patriarchs coeval with their mansions.
Orchards of cherry-trees cover the steeps above the village, which to
our certain knowledge produce most admirable fruit.

Having refreshed ourselves with their cooling juice, we struck into a
grove of pines, the tallest and most flourishing we had yet beheld.
There seemed no end to these forests, except where little irregular
spots of herbage, fed by cattle, intervened. Whenever we gained an
eminence it was only to discover more ranges of dark wood, variegated
with meadows and glittering streams. White clover and a profusion of
sweet-scented flowers clothe their banks; above, waves the mountain-ash,
glowing with scarlet berries: and beyond, rise hills, rocks and
mountains, piled upon one another, and fringed with fir to their topmost
acclivities. Perhaps the Norwegian forests alone, equal these in
grandeur and extent. Those which cover the Swiss highlands rarely convey
such vast ideas. There, the woods climb only half way up their ascents,
which then are circumscribed by snows: here no boundaries are set to
their progress, and the mountains, from base to summit, display rich
unbroken masses of vegetation.

As we were surveying this prospect, a thick cloud, fraught with thunder,
obscured the horizon, whilst flashes of lightning startled our horses,
whose snorts and stampings resounded through the woods. The impending
tempests gave additional gloom to the firs, and we travelled several
miles almost in total darkness. One moment the clouds began to fleet,
and a faint gleam promised serener intervals, but the next was all
blackness and terror; presently a deluge of rain poured down upon the
valley, and in a short time the torrents beginning to swell, raged with
such violence as to be forded with difficulty. Twilight drew on, just as
we had passed the most terrible; then ascending a mountain, whose pines
and birches rustled with the storm, we saw a little lake below. A deep
azure haze veiled its eastern shore, and lowering vapours concealed the
cliffs to the south; but over its western extremities hung a few
transparent clouds; the rays of a struggling sunset streamed on the
surface of the waters, tingeing the brow of a green promontory with
tender pink.

I could not help fixing myself on the banks of the lake for several
minutes, till this apparition faded away. Looking round, I shuddered at
a craggy mountain, clothed with forests and almost perpendicular, that
was absolutely to be surmounted before we could arrive at Walchen-see.
No house, not even a shed appearing, we were forced to ascend the peak,
and penetrate these awful groves. At length, after some perils but no
adventure, we saw lights gleam upon the shore of the Walchen lake, which
served to direct us to a cottage, where we passed the night, and were
soon lulled to sleep by the fall of distant waters.



LETTER X.

     Mittenwald.--Mountain chapels.--Saint Anna’s young and fair
     worshippers.--Road to Inspruck.--Maximilian’s tomb.--Vast range of
     prospects.--A mountain torrent.--Schönberg.


July 26.

The sun rose many hours before me, and when I got up was spangling the
surface of the lake, which spreads itself between steeps of wood,
crowned by lofty crags and pinnacles. We had an opportunity of
contemplating this bold assemblage as we travelled on the banks of the
lake, where it forms a bay sheltered by impending forests; the water,
tinged by their reflection with a deep cerulean, calm and tranquil.
Mountains of pine and beech rising above, close every outlet; and, no
village or spire peeping out of the foliage, impress an idea of more
than European solitude.

From the shore of Walchen-see, our road led us straight through arching
groves, which the axe seems never to have violated, to the summit of a
rock covered with daphnes of various species, and worn by the course of
torrents into innumerable craggy forms. Beneath, lay extended a chaos of
shattered cliffs, with tall pines springing from their crevices, and
rapid streams hurrying between their intermingled trunks and branches.
As yet, no hut appeared, no mill, no bridge, no trace of human
existence.

After a few hours’ journey through the wilderness, we began to discover
a wreath of smoke; and presently the cottage from whence it arose,
composed of planks, and reared on the very brink of a precipice. Piles
of cloven fir were dispersed before the entrance, on a little spot of
verdure browsed by goats; near them sat an aged man with hoary whiskers,
his white locks tucked under a fur cap. Two or three beautiful children
with hair neatly braided, played around him; and a young woman dressed
in a short robe and Polish-looking bonnet, peeped out of a wicket
window.

I was so much struck with the appearance of this sequestered family,
that, crossing a rivulet, I clambered up to their cottage and sought
some refreshment. Immediately there was a contention amongst the
children, who should be the first to oblige me. A little black-eyed girl
succeeded, and brought me an earthen jug full of milk, with crumbled
bread, and a platter of strawberries fresh picked from the bank. I
reclined in the midst of my smiling hosts, and spread my repast on the
turf: never could I be waited upon with more hospitable grace. The only
thing I wanted was language to express my gratitude; and it was this
deficiency which made me quit them so soon. The old man seemed visibly
concerned at my departure; and his children followed me a long way down
the rocks, talking in a dialect which passes all understanding, and
waving their hands to bid me adieu.

I had hardly lost sight of them and regained my carriage before we
entered a forest of pines, to all appearance without bounds, of every
age and figure; some, feathered to the ground with flourishing branches;
others, decayed into shapes like Lapland idols. Even at noonday, I
thought we should never have found our way out.

At last, having descended a long avenue, endless perspectives opening
on either side, we emerged into a valley bounded by hills, divided into
irregular inclosures, where many herds were grazing. A rivulet flows
along the pastures beneath; and after winding through the village of
Walgau, loses itself in a narrow pass amongst the cliffs and precipices
which rise above the cultivated slopes and frame in this happy pastoral
region. All the plain was in sunshine, the sky blue, the heights
illuminated, except one rugged peak with spires of rock, shaped not
unlike the views I have seen of Sinai, and wrapped, like that sacred
mount, in clouds and darkness. At the base of this tremendous mass lies
the hamlet of Mittenwald, surrounded by thickets and banks of verdure,
and watered by frequent springs, whose sight and murmurs were so
reviving in the midst of a sultry day, that we could not think of
leaving their vicinity, but remained at Mittenwald the whole evening.

Our inn had long airy galleries, with pleasant balconies fronting the
mountain; in one of these we dined upon trout fresh from the rills, and
cherries just culled from the orchards that cover the slopes above. The
clouds were dispersing, and the topmost peak half visible, before we
ended our repast, every moment discovering some inaccessible cliff or
summit, shining through the mists, and tinted by the sun, with pale
golden colours. These appearances filled me with such delight and with
such a train of romantic associations, that I left the table and ran to
an open field beyond the huts and gardens to gaze in solitude and catch
the vision before it dissolved away. You, if any human being is able,
may conceive true ideas of the glowing vapours sailing over the pointed
rocks, and brightening them in their passage with amber light.

When all was faded and lost in the blue ether, I had time to look around
me and notice the mead in which I was standing. Here, clover covered its
surface; there, crops of grain; further on, beds of herbs and the
sweetest flowers. An amphitheatre of hills and rocks, broken into a
variety of glens and precipices, open a course for several clear
rivulets, which, after gurgling amidst loose stones and fragments, fall
down the steeps, and are concealed and quieted in the herbage of the
vale.

A cottage or two peep out of the woods that hang over the waterfalls;
and on the brow of the hills above, appears a series of eleven little
chapels, uniformly built. I followed the narrow path that leads to them,
on the edge of the eminences, and met a troop of beautiful peasants, all
of the name of Anna (for it was St. Anna’s day) going to pay their
devotion, severally, at these neat white fanes. There were faces that
Guercino would not have disdained copying, with braids of hair the
softest and most luxuriant I ever beheld. Some had wreathed it simply
with flowers, others with rolls of a thin linen (manufactured in the
neighbourhood), and disposed it with a degree of elegance one should not
have expected on the cliffs of the Tyrol.

Being arrived, they knelt all together at the first chapel, on the
steps, a minute or two, whispered a short prayer, and then dispersed
each to her fane. Every little building had now its fair worshipper, and
you may well conceive how much such figures, scattered about the
landscape, increased its charms. Notwithstanding the fervour of their
adorations (for at intervals they sighed and beat their white bosoms
with energy), several bewitching profane glances were cast at me as I
passed by. Do not be surprised, then, if I became a convert to idolatry
in so amiable a form, and worshipped Saint Anna on the score of her
namesakes.

When got beyond the last chapel, I began to hear the roar of a cascade
in a thick wood of beech and chestnut that clothes the steeps of a wide
fissure in the rock. My ear soon guided me to its entrance, which was
marked by a shed encompassed with mossy fragments and almost concealed
by bushes of rhododendron in full red bloom--amongst these I struggled,
till reaching a goat-track, it conducted me, on the brink of the foaming
waters, to the very depths of the cliff, whence issues a stream which,
dashing impetuously down, strikes against a ledge of rocks, and
sprinkles the impending thicket with dew. Big drops hung on every spray,
and glittered on the leaves partially gilt by the rays of the declining
sun, whose mellow hues softened the rugged summits, and diffused a
repose, a divine calm, over this deep retirement, which inclined me to
imagine it the extremity of the earth--the portal of some other region
of existence,--some happy world beyond the dark groves of pine, the
caves and awful mountains, where the river takes its source! Impressed
with this romantic idea, I hung eagerly over the gulph, and fancied I
could distinguish a voice bubbling up with the waters; then looked into
the abyss and strained my eyes to penetrate its gloom--but all was dark
and unfathomable as futurity! Awakening from my reverie, I felt the
damps of the water chill my forehead; and ran shivering out of the vale
to avoid them. A warmer atmosphere, that reigned in the meads I had
wandered across before, tempted me to remain a good while longer
collecting dianthi freaked with beautifully varied colours, and a
species of white thyme scented like myrrh. Whilst I was thus employed, a
confused murmur struck my ear, and, on turning towards a cliff, backed
by the woods from whence the sound seemed to proceed, forth issued a
herd of goats, hundreds after hundreds, skipping down the steeps: then
followed two shepherd boys, gamboling together as they drove their
creatures along: soon after, the dog made his appearance, hunting a
stray heifer which brought up the rear. I followed them with my eyes
till lost in the windings of the valley, and heard the tinkling of their
bells die gradually away. Now the last blush of crimson left the summit
of _Sinai_, inferior mountains being long since cast in deep blue shade.
The village was already hushed when I regained it, and in a few moments
I followed its example.

July 27.--We pursued our journey to Inspruck, through the wildest scenes
of wood and mountain, where the rocks were now beginning to assume a
loftier and more majestic appearance, and to glisten with snows. I had
proposed passing a day or two at Inspruck, visiting the castle of
Embras, and examining Count Eysenberg’s cabinet, enriched with the
rarest productions of the mineral kingdom, and a complete collection of
the moths and flies peculiar to the Tyrol; but, upon my arrival, the
azure of the skies and the brightness of the sunshine inspired me with
an irresistible wish of hastening to Italy. I was now too near the
object of my journey, to delay possession any longer than absolutely
necessary, so, casting a transient look on Maximilian’s tomb, and the
bronze statues of Tyrolese Counts, and worthies, solemnly ranged in the
church of the Franciscans, set off immediately.

We crossed a broad noble street, terminated by a triumphal arch, and
were driven along the road to the foot of a mountain waving with fields
of corn, and variegated with wood and vineyards, encircling lawns of
the finest verdure, scattered over with white houses. Upon ascending the
mount, and beholding a vast range of prospects of a similar character, I
almost repented my impatience, and looked down with regret upon the
cupolas and steeples we were leaving behind. But the rapid succession of
lovely and romantic scenes soon effaced the former from my memory.

Our road, the smoothest in the world (though hewn in the bosom of rocks)
by its sudden turns and windings, gave us, every instant, opportunities
of discovering new villages, and forests rising beyond forests; green
spots in the midst of wood, high above on the mountains, and cottages
perched on the edge of promontories. Down, far below, in the chasm,
amidst a confusion of pines and fragments of stone, rages the torrent
Inn, which fills the country far and wide with a perpetual murmur.
Sometimes we descended to its brink, and crossed over high bridges;
sometimes mounted halfway up the cliffs, till its roar and agitation
became, through distance, inconsiderable.

After a long ascent we reached Schönberg,[5] a village well worthy of
its appellation: and then, twilight drawing over us, began to descend.
We could now but faintly discover the opposite mountains, veined with
silver rills, when we came once more to the banks of the Inn. This
turbulent stream accompanied us all the way to Steinach, and broke by
its continual roar the stillness of the night, half spent, before we
retired to rest.



LETTER XI.

     Steinach.--Its torrent and gloomy strait.--Achievements of
     Industry.--A sleepy Region.--Beautiful country round Brixen.


July 28.

I rose early to enjoy the fragrance of the vegetation, bathed in a
shower which had lately fallen, and looking around me, saw nothing but
crags hanging over crags, and the rocky shores of the stream, still dark
with the shade of the mountains. The small opening in which Steinach is
situated, terminates in a gloomy strait, scarce leaving room for the
road and the torrent, which does not understand being thwarted, and will
force its way, let the pines grow ever so thick, or the rocks be ever so
formidable.

Notwithstanding the forbidding air of this narrow dell, Industry has
contrived to enliven its steeps with habitations, to raise water by
means of a wheel, and to cover the surface of the rocks with soil. By
this means large crops of oats and flax are produced, and most of the
huts have gardens filled with poppies, which seem to thrive in this
parched situation.

    “Urit enim lini campum seges, urit avenæ,
     Urunt Lethæo perfusa papavera somno.”

The farther we advanced in the dell, the larger were the plantations
which discovered themselves. For what specific purpose these gaudy
flowers meet with such encouragement, I had neither time nor language to
enquire; the mountaineers stuttering a gibberish unintelligible even to
Germans. Probably opium is extracted from them; or, perhaps, if you love
a conjecture, Morpheus has transferred his abode from the Cimmerians to
a cavern somewhere or other in the recesses of these endless mountains.
Poppies, you know, in poetic travels, always denote the skirts of his
soporific reign, and I do not remember a region better calculated for
undisturbed repose than the narrow clefts and gullies which run up
amongst these rocks, lost in vapours impervious to the sun, and
moistened by rills and showers, whose continual trickling inspire a
drowsiness not easily to be resisted. Add to these circumstances the
waving of the pines, and the hum of bees seeking their food in the
crevices, and you will have as sleepy a region as that in which Spenser
and Ariosto have placed the nodding deity.

But we may as well keep our eyes open for the present, and look at the
beautiful country round Brixen, where I arrived in the cool of the
evening, and breathed the freshness of a garden immediately beneath my
window. The thrushes, which nest amongst its shades, saluted me the
moment I awoke next morning.



ITALY.



LETTER I.

     Bolsano.--Indications of approaching
     Italy.--Fire-flies.--Appearance of the Peasantry.--A forest
     Lake.--Arrive at Borgo di Volsugano.--Prospect of Hills in the
     Venetian State.--Gorgeous Flies.--Fortress of Covalo.--Leave the
     country of crags and precipices and enter the territory of the
     Bassanese.--Groves of olives and vines.--Classic appearance of
     Bassano.--Happy groups.--Pachierotti, the celebrated
     singer.--Anecdote of him.


July 29, 1780.

We proceeded over fertile mountains to Bolsano. It was here first that I
noticed the rocks cut into terraces, thick set with melons and Indian
corn; fig-trees and pomegranates hanging over garden walls, clustered
with fruit. In the evening we perceived several further indications of
approaching Italy; and after sun-set the Adige, rolling its full tide
between precipices, which looked terrific in the dusk. Myriads of
fire-flies sparkled amongst the shrubs on the bank. I traced the course
of these exotic insects by their blue light, now rising to the summits
of the trees, now sinking to the ground, and associating with vulgar
glow-worms. We had opportunities enough to remark their progress, since
we travelled all night; such being my impatience to reach the promised
land!

Morning dawned just as we saw Trent dimly before us. I slept a few
hours, then set out again (July 30th), after the heats were in some
measure abated, and leaving Bergine, where the peasants were feasting
before their doors, in their holiday dresses, with red pinks stuck in
their ears instead of rings, and their necks surrounded with coral of
the same colour, we came through a woody valley to the banks of a lake,
filled with the purest and most transparent water, which loses itself in
shady creeks, amongst hills entirely covered with shrubs and verdure.

The shores present one continual thicket, interspersed with knots of
larches and slender almonds, starting from the underwood. A cornice of
rock runs round the whole, except where the trees descend to the very
brink, and dip their boughs in the water.

It was six o’clock when I caught the sight of this unsuspected lake,
and the evening shadows stretched nearly across it. Gaining a very rapid
ascent, we looked down upon its placid bosom, and saw several airy peaks
rising above tufted foliage. I quitted the contemplation of them with
regret, and, in a few hours, arrived at Borgo di Volsugano; the scene of
the lake still present before the eye of my fancy.

July 31st.--My heart beat quick when I saw some hills, not very distant,
which I was told lay in the Venetian State, and I thought an age, at
least, had elapsed before we were passing their base. The road was never
formed to delight an impatient traveller; loose pebbles and rolling
stones render it, in the highest degree, tedious and jolting. I should
not have spared my execrations, had it not traversed a picturesque
valley, overgrown with juniper, and strewed with fragments of rock,
precipitated, long since, from the surrounding eminences, blooming with
cyclamens.

I clambered up several of these crags,

    Fra gli odoriferi ginepri,[6]

to gather the flowers I have just mentioned, and found them deliciously
scented. Fratillarias, and the most gorgeous flies, many of which I
here noticed for the first time, were fluttering about and expanding
their wings to the sun. There is no describing the numbers I beheld, nor
their gaily varied colouring. I could not find in my heart to destroy
their felicity; to scatter their bright plumage and snatch them for ever
from the realms of light and flowers. Had I been less compassionate, I
should have gained credit with that respectable corps, the torturers of
butterflies; and might, perhaps, have enriched their cabinets with some
unknown captives. However, I left them imbibing the dews of heaven, in
free possession of their native rights; and having changed horses at
Tremolano, entered at length my long-desired Italy.

The pass is rocky and tremendous, guarded by the fortress of Covalo, in
possession of the empress queen, and only fit, one should think, to be
inhabited by her eagles. There is no attaining this exalted hold but by
the means of a cord let down many fathoms by the soldiers, who live in
dens and caverns, which serve also as arsenals, and magazines for
powder; whose mysteries I declined prying into, their approach being a
little too aërial for my earthly frame. A black vapour, tinging their
entrance, completed the romance of the prospect, which I never shall
forget.

For two or three leagues there was little variation in the scenery;
cliffs, nearly perpendicular on both sides, and the Brenta foaming and
thundering below. Beyond, the rocks began to be mantled with vines and
gardens. Here and there a cottage shaded with mulberries, made its
appearance, and we often discovered, on the banks of the river, ranges
of white buildings, with courts and awnings, beneath which numbers of
women and children were employed in manufacturing silk. As we advanced,
the stream gradually widened, and the rocks receded; woods were more
frequent and cottages thicker strown.

About five in the evening we left the country of crags and precipices,
of mists and cataracts, and were entering the fertile territory of the
Bassanese. It was now I beheld groves of olives, and vines clustering
the summits of the tallest elms; pomegranates in every garden, and vases
of citron and orange before almost every door. The softness and
transparency of the air soon told me I was arrived in happier climates;
and I felt sensations of joy and novelty run through my veins, upon
beholding this smiling land of groves and verdure stretched out before
me. A few hazy vapours, I can hardly call them clouds, rested upon the
extremities of the landscape; and, through their medium, the sun cast an
oblique and dewy ray. Peasants were returning home, singing as they
went, and calling to each other over the hills; whilst the women were
milking goats before the wickets of the cottage, and preparing their
country fare.

I left them enjoying it, and soon beheld the ancient ramparts and
cypresses of Bassano; whose classic appearance recalled the memory of
former times, and answered exactly the ideas I had pictured to myself of
Italian edifices. Though encompassed by walls and turrets, neither
soldiers nor custom-house officers start out from their concealment, to
question and molest a weary traveller, for such is the happiness of the
Venetian state, at least of the terra firma provinces, that it does not
contain, I believe, above four regiments. Istria, Dalmatia, and the
maritime frontiers, are more formidably guarded, as they touch, you
know, the whiskers of the Turkish empire.

Passing under a Doric gateway, we crossed the chief part of the town in
the way to our locanda, pleasantly situated, and commanding a level
green, where people walk and take ices by moonlight. On the right, the
Franciscan church, and convent, half hid in the religious gloom of pine
and cypress; to the left, a perspective of walls and towers rising from
the turf, and marking it, when I arrived, with long shadows, in front;
where the lawn terminates, meadow, wood, and garden run quite to the
base of the mountains.

Twilight coming on, this beautiful spot swarmed with company, sitting in
circles upon the grass, refreshing themselves with fruit and sherbets,
or lounging upon the bank beneath the towers. They looked so free and
happy that I longed to be acquainted with them; and, thanks to a
warm-hearted old Venetian, (the Senator Querini,) was introduced to a
group of the principal inhabitants. Our conversation ended in a promise
to meet the next evening at the villa of La Contessa Roberti, about a
league from Bassano, and then to return together and sing to the praise
of Pachierotti, their idol, as well as mine.

You can have no idea what pleasure we mutually found in being of the
same faith, and believing in one singer; nor can you imagine what
effects that musical divinity produced at Padua, where he performed a
few years ago, and threw his audience into such raptures, that it was
some time before they recovered. One in particular, a lady of
distinction, fainted away the instant she caught the pathetic accents of
his voice, and was near dying a martyr to its melody. La Contessa, who
sings in the truest taste, gave me a detail of the whole affair. “Egli
ha fatto veramente un fanatismo a Padua,” was her expression. I assured
her we were not without idolatry in England, upon his account; but that
in this, as well as in other articles of belief, there were many
abominable heretics.



LETTER II.

     Villa of Mosolente--The route to Venice.--First view of that
     city.--Striking prospect from the Leon Bianco.--Morning scene on
     the grand canal.--Church of Santa Maria della Salute.--Interesting
     group of stately buildings.--Convent of St. Giorgio Maggiore.--The
     Redentore.--Island of the Carthusians.


August 1st, 1780.

The whole morning not a soul stirred who could avoid it. Those who were
so active and lively the night before, were now stretched languidly upon
their couches. Being to the full as idly disposed, I sat down and wrote
some of this dreaming epistle; then feasted upon figs and melons; then
got under the shade of the cypress, and slumbered till evening, only
waking to dine, and take some ice.

The sun declining apace, I hastened to my engagement at Mosolente (for
so is the villa called) placed on a verdant hill encircled by others as
lovely, and consisting of three light pavilions connected by porticos;
just such as we admire in the fairy scenes of an opera. A vast flight of
steps leads to the summit, where Signora Roberti and her friends
received me with a grace and politeness that can never want a place in
my memory. We rambled over all the apartments of this agreeable edifice,
characterised by airiness and simplicity. The pavement encrusted with a
composition as cool and polished as marble; the windows, doors, and
balconies adorned with silver iron work, commanding scenes of meads and
woodlands that extend to the shores of the Adriatic; slender towers and
cypresses rising above the levels; and the hazy mountains beyond Padua,
diversifying the expanse, form altogether a landscape which the elegant
imagination of Horizonti never exceeded.

I gazed on this delightful view till it faded in the dusk; then
returning to Bassano, repaired to an illuminated hall, and heard Signora
Roberti sing the very air which had excited such transport at Padua. As
soon as she had ended, a band of various instruments stationed in the
open street began a lively symphony, which would have delighted me at
any other time; but now, I wished them a thousand leagues away, so
pleasingly melancholy an impression did the air I had been listening to
leave on my mind.

At midnight I took leave of my obliging hosts, who were just setting out
for Padua. They gave me a thousand kind invitations, and I hope some
future day to accept them.


August 2.

Our route to Venice lay winding about the variegated plains I had
surveyed from Mosolente; and after dining at Treviso we came in two
hours and a half to Mestre, between grand villas and gardens peopled
with statues. Embarking our baggage at the last-mentioned place, we
stepped into a gondola, whose even motion was very agreeable after the
jolts of a chaise. We were soon out of the canal of Mestre, terminated
by an isle which contains a cell dedicated to the Holy Virgin, peeping
out of a thicket, whence spire up two tall cypresses. Its bells tingled
as we passed along and dropped some paolis into a net tied at the end of
a pole stretched out to us for that purpose.

As soon as we had doubled the cape of this diminutive island, an expanse
of sea opened to our view, the domes and towers of Venice rising from
its bosom. Now we began to distinguish Murano, St. Michele, St. Giorgio
in Alga, and several other islands, detached from the grand cluster,
which I hailed as old acquaintances; innumerable prints and drawings
having long since made their shapes familiar. Still gliding forward, we
every moment distinguished some new church or palace in the city,
suffused with the rays of the setting sun, and reflected with all their
glow of colouring from the surface of the waters.

The air was calm; the sky cloudless; a faint wind just breathing upon
the deep, lightly bore its surface against the steps of a chapel in the
island of San Secondo, and waved the veil before its portal, as we rowed
by and coasted the walls of its garden overhung with fig-trees and
surmounted by spreading pines. The convent discovers itself through
their branches, built in a style somewhat morisco, and level with the
sea, except where the garden intervenes.

We were now drawing very near the city, and a confused hum began to
interrupt the evening stillness; gondolas were continually passing and
repassing, and the entrance of the Canal Reggio, with all its stir and
bustle, lay before us. Our gondoliers turned with much address through
a crowd of boats and barges that blocked up the way, and rowed smoothly
by the side of a broad pavement, covered with people in all dresses and
of all nations.

Leaving the Palazzo Pesaro, a noble structure with two rows of arcades
and a superb rustic, behind, we were soon landed before the Leon Bianco,
which being situated in one of the broadest parts of the grand canal,
commands a most striking assemblage of buildings. I have no terms to
describe the variety of pillars, of pediments, of mouldings, and
cornices, some Grecian, others Saracenic, that adorn these edifices, of
which the pencil of Canaletti conveys so perfect an idea as to render
all verbal description superfluous. At one end of this grand scene of
perspective appears the Rialto; the sweep of the canal conceals the
other.

The rooms of our hotel are spacious and cheerful; a lofty hall, or
rather gallery, painted with grotesque in a very good style, perfectly
clean, floored with a marbled stucco, divides the house, and admits a
refreshing current of air. Several windows near the ceiling look into
this vast apartment, which serves in lieu of a court, and is rendered
perfectly luminous by a glazed arcade, thrown open to catch the
breezes. Through it I passed to a balcony which impends over the canal,
and is twined round with plants forming a green festoon springing from
two large vases of orange trees placed at each end. Here I established
myself to enjoy the cool, and observe, as well as the dusk would permit,
the variety of figures shooting by in their gondolas.

As night approached, innumerable tapers glimmered through the awnings
before the windows. Every boat had its lantern, and the gondolas moving
rapidly along were followed by tracks of light, which gleamed and played
upon the waters. I was gazing at these dancing fires when the sounds of
music were wafted along the canals, and as they grew louder and louder,
an illuminated barge, filled with musicians, issued from the Rialto, and
stopping under one of the palaces, began a serenade, which stilled every
clamour and suspended all conversation in the galleries and porticos;
till, rowing slowly away, it was heard no more. The gondoliers catching
the air, imitated its cadences, and were answered by others at a
distance, whose voices, echoed by the arch of the bridge, acquired a
plaintive and interesting tone. I retired to rest, full of the sound;
and long after I was asleep, the melody seemed to vibrate in my ear.


August 3.

It was not five o’clock before I was aroused by a loud din of voices and
splashing of water under my balcony. Looking out, I beheld the grand
canal so entirely covered with fruits and vegetables, on rafts and in
barges, that I could scarcely distinguish a wave. Loads of grapes,
peaches and melons arrived, and disappeared in an instant, for every
vessel was in motion; and the crowds of purchasers hurrying from boat to
boat, formed a very lively picture. Amongst the multitudes, I remarked a
good many whose dress and carriage announced something above the common
rank; and upon enquiry I found they were noble Venetians, just come from
their casinos, and met to refresh themselves with fruit, before they
retired to sleep for the day.

Whilst I was observing them, the sun began to colour the balustrades of
the palaces, and the pure exhilarating air of the morning drawing me
abroad, I procured a gondola, laid in my provision of bread and grapes,
and was rowed under the Rialto, down the grand canal to the marble steps
of S. Maria della Salute, erected by the Senate in performance of a vow
to the Holy Virgin, who begged off a terrible pestilence in 1630. The
great bronze portal opened whilst I was standing on the steps which lead
to it, and discovered the interior of the dome, where I expatiated in
solitude; no mortal appearing except an old priest who trimmed the lamps
and muttered a prayer before the high altar, still wrapt in shadows. The
sun-beams began to strike against the windows of the cupola, just as I
left the church and was wafted across the waves to the spacious platform
in front of St. Giorgio Maggiore, one of the most celebrated works of
Palladio.

When my first transport was a little subsided, and I had examined the
graceful design of each particular ornament, and united the just
proportion and grand effect of the whole in my mind, I planted my
umbrella on the margin of the sea, and viewed at my leisure the vast
range of palaces, of porticos, of towers, opening on every side and
extending out of sight. The Doge’s palace and the tall columns at the
entrance of the place of St. Mark, form, together with the arcades of
the public library, the lofty Campanile and the cupolas of the ducal
church, one of the most striking groups of buildings that art can boast
of. To behold at one glance these stately fabrics, so illustrious in the
records of former ages, before which, in the flourishing times of the
republic, so many valiant chiefs and princes have landed, loaded with
oriental spoils, was a spectacle I had long and ardently desired. I
thought of the days of Frederic Barbarossa, when looking up the piazza
of St. Mark, along which he marched in solemn procession, to cast
himself at the feet of Alexander the Third, and pay a tardy homage to
St. Peter’s successor. Here were no longer those splendid fleets that
attended his progress; one solitary galeass was all I beheld, anchored
opposite the palace of the Doge and surrounded by crowds of gondolas,
whose sable hues contrasted strongly with its vermilion oars and shining
ornaments. A party-coloured multitude was continually shifting from one
side of the piazza to the other; whilst senators and magistrates in long
black robes were already arriving to fill their respective offices.

I contemplated the busy scene from my peaceful platform, where nothing
stirred but aged devotees creeping to their devotions, and, whilst I
remained thus calm and tranquil, heard the distant buzz of the town.
Fortunately some length of waves rolled between me and its tumults; so
that I ate my grapes, and read Metastasio, undisturbed by officiousness
or curiosity. When the sun became too powerful, I entered the nave.

After I had admired the masterly structure of the roof and the lightness
of its arches, my eyes naturally directed themselves to the pavement of
white and ruddy marble, polished, and reflecting like a mirror the
columns which rise from it. Over this I walked to a door that admitted
me into the principal quadrangle of the convent, surrounded by a
cloister supported on Ionic pillars, beautifully proportioned. A flight
of stairs opens into the court, adorned with balustrades and pedestals,
sculptured with elegance truly Grecian. This brought me to the
refectory, where the chef-d’œuvre of Paul Veronese, representing the
marriage of Cana in Galilee, was the first object that presented itself.
I never beheld so gorgeous a group of wedding-garments before; there is
every variety of fold and plait that can possibly be imagined. The
attitudes and countenances are more uniform, and the guests appear a
very genteel, decent sort of people, well used to the mode of their
times and accustomed to miracles.

Having examined this fictitious repast, I cast a look on a long range of
tables covered with very excellent realities, which the monks were
coming to devour with energy, if one might judge from their appearance.
These sons of penitence and mortification possess one of the most
spacious islands of the whole cluster, a princely habitation, with
gardens and open porticos, that engross every breath of air; and, what
adds not a little to the charms of their abode, is the facility of
making excursions from it, whenever they have a mind.

The republic, jealous of ecclesiastical influence, connives at these
amusing rambles, and, by encouraging the liberty of monks and churchmen,
prevents their appearing too sacred and important in the eyes of the
people, who have frequent proofs of their being mere flesh and blood,
and that of the frailest composition. Had the rest of Italy been of the
same opinion, and profited as much by Fra Paolo’s maxims, some of its
fairest fields would not, at this moment, lie uncultivated, and its
ancient spirit might have revived. However, I can scarcely think the
moment far distant, when it will assert its natural prerogatives, and
look back upon the tiara, with all its host of scaring phantoms, as the
offspring of a feverish dream.

Full of prophecies and bodings, I moved slowly out of the cloisters;
and, gaining my gondola, arrived, I know not how, at the flights of
steps which lead to the Redentore, a structure so simple and elegant,
that I thought myself entering an antique temple, and looked about for
the statue of the God of Delphi, or some other graceful divinity. A huge
crucifix of bronze soon brought me to times present.

The charm being thus dissolved, I began to perceive the shapes of rueful
martyrs peeping out of the niches around, and the bushy beards of
capuchin friars wagging before the altars. These good fathers had
decorated the nave with orange and citron trees, placed between the
pilasters of the arcades; and on grand festivals, it seems, they turn
the whole church into a bower, strew the pavement with leaves, and
festoon the dome with flowers.

I left them occupied with their plants and their devotions. It was
mid-day, and I begged to be rowed to some woody island, where I might
dine in shade and tranquillity. My gondoliers shot off in an instant;
but, though they went at a very rapid rate, I wished to advance still
faster, and getting into a bark with six oars, swept along the waters,
soon left the Zecca and San Marco behind; and, launching into the plains
of shining sea, saw turret after turret, and isle after isle, fleeting
before me. A pale greenish light ran along the shores of the distant
continent, whose mountains seemed to catch the motion of my boat, and to
fly with equal celerity.

I had not much time to contemplate the beautiful effects on the
waters--the emerald and purple hues which gleamed along their surface.
Our prow struck, foaming, against the walls of the Carthusian garden,
before I recollected where I was, or could look attentively around me.
Permission being obtained, I entered this cool retirement, and putting
aside with my hands the boughs of figs and pomegranates, got under an
ancient bay-tree on the summit of a little knoll, near which several
tall pines lift themselves up to the breezes. I listened to the
conversation they held, with a wind just flown from Greece, and charged,
as well as I could understand this airy language, with many
affectionate remembrances from their relations on Mount Ida.

I reposed amidst fragrant leaves, fanned by a constant air, till it
pleased the fathers to send me some provisions, with a basket of fruit
and wine. Two of them would wait upon me, and ask ten thousand questions
about Lord George Gordon, and the American war. I, who was deeply
engaged with the winds, and a thousand agreeable associations excited by
my Grecian fancies, wished my interrogators in purgatory, and pleaded
ignorance of the Italian language. This circumstance extricated me from
my embarrassment, and procured me a long interval of repose.



LETTER III.

     Church of St. Mark.--The Piazza.--Magnificent festivals formerly
     celebrated there.--Stately architecture of Sansovino.--The
     Campanile.--The Loggetta.--The Ducal Palace.--Colossal
     Statues.--Giants’ Stairs.--Fit of enthusiasm.--Evening-scene in the
     great Square.--Venetian intrigue.--Confusion of languages.--Madame
     de Rosenberg.--Character of the Venetians.


The rustling of the pines had the same effect as the murmurs of other
old story-tellers, and I dozed undisturbed till the people without, in
the boat, (who wondered not a little, I dare say, what was become of me
within,) began a sort of chorus in parts, full of such plaintive
modulation, that I still thought myself under the influence of a dream,
and, half in this world and half in the other, believed, like the heroes
of Fingal, that I had caught the music of the spirits of the hill.

When I was thoroughly convinced of the reality of these sounds, I moved
towards the shore whence they proceeded: a glassy sea lay before me; no
gale ruffled the expanse; every breath had subsided, and I beheld the
sun go down in all its sacred calm. You have experienced the sensations
this moment inspires; imagine what they must have been in such a scene,
and accompanied with a melody so simple and pathetic. I stepped into my
boat, and now instead of encouraging the speed of the gondoliers, begged
them to abate their ardour, and row me lazily home. They complied, and
we were near an hour reaching the platform in front of the ducal palace,
thronged as usual with a variety of nations. I mixed a moment with the
crowd; then directed my steps to the great mosque, I ought to say the
church of St. Mark; but really its cupolas, slender pinnacles, and
semicircular arches, have so oriental an appearance, as to excuse this
appellation. I looked a moment at the four stately coursers of bronze
and gold that adorn the chief portal, and then took in, at one glance,
the whole extent of the piazza, with its towers and standards. A more
noble assemblage was never exhibited by architecture. I envied the good
fortune of Petrarch, who describes, in one of his letters, a tournament
held in this princely opening.

Many are the festivals which have been here celebrated. When Henry the
Third left Poland to mount the throne of France, he passed through
Venice, and found the Senate waiting to receive him in their famous
square, which by means of an awning stretched from the balustrades of
opposite palaces, was metamorphosed into a vast saloon, sparkling with
artificial stars, and spread with the richest carpets of the East. What
a magnificent idea! The ancient Romans, in the zenith of power and
luxury, never conceived a greater. It is to them, however, the Venetians
are indebted for the hint, since we read of the Coliseo and Pompey’s
theatre being sometimes covered with transparent canvas, to defend the
spectators from the heat or sudden rain, and to tint the scene with soft
agreeable colours.

Having enjoyed the general perspective of the piazza, I began to enter
into particulars, and examine the bronze pedestals of the three
standards before the great church, designed by Sansovino in the true
spirit of the antique, and covered with relievos, at once bold and
elegant. It is also to this celebrated architect we are indebted for the
stately façade of the _Procuratie nuove_, which forms one side of the
square, and presents an uninterrupted series of arcades and marble
columns exquisitely wrought. Opposite this magnificent range appears
another line of palaces, whose architecture, though far removed from the
Grecian elegance of Sansovino, impresses veneration, and completes the
pomp of the view.

There is something strange and singular in the Tower or Campanile, which
rises distinct from the smooth pavement of the square, a little to the
left as you stand before the chief entrance of St. Mark’s. The design is
barbarous, and terminates in uncouth and heavy pyramids; yet in spite of
these defects it struck me with awe. A beautiful building called the
Loggetta, and which serves as a guard-house during the convocation of
the Grand Council, decorates its base. Nothing can be more enriched,
more finished than this structure; which, though far from diminutive, is
in a manner lost at the foot of the Campanile. This enormous fabric
seems to promise a long duration, and will probably exhibit Saint Mark
and his Lion to the latest posterity. Both appear in great state towards
its summit, and have nothing superior, but an archangel perched on the
topmost pinnacle, and pointing to the skies. The dusk prevented my
remarking the various sculptures with which the Loggetta is crowded.

Crossing the ample space between this graceful edifice and the ducal
palace, I passed through a labyrinth of pillars and entered the
principal court, of which nothing but the great outline was visible at
so late an hour. Two reservoirs of bronze richly sculptured diversify
the area. In front a magnificent flight of steps presents itself, by
which the senators ascend through vast and solemn corridors, which lead
to the interior of the edifice. The colossal statues of Mars and Neptune
guard the entrance, and have given the appellation of _scala dei
giganti_ to the steps below, which I mounted not without respect; and,
leaning against the balustrades, formed like the rest of the building of
the rarest marbles, contemplated the tutelary divinities.

My admiration was shortly interrupted by one of the sbirri, or officers
of police, who take their stands after sunset before the avenues of the
palace, and who told me the gates were upon the point of being closed.
So, hurrying down the steps, I left a million of delicate sculptures
unexplored; for every pilaster, every frieze, every entablature, is
encrusted with porphyry, verde antique, or some other precious marble,
carved into as many grotesque wreaths of foliage as we admire in the
loggie of Raphael. The various portals, the strange projections; in
short, the striking irregularity of these stately piles, delighted me
beyond idea; and I was sorry to be forced to abandon them so soon,
especially as the twilight, which bats and owls love not better than I
do, enlarged every portico, lengthened every colonnade, and increased
the dimensions of the whole, just as imagination desired. This faculty
would have had full scope had I but remained an hour longer. The moon
would then have gleamed upon the gigantic forms of Mars and Neptune, and
discovered the statues of ancient heroes emerging from the gloom of
their niches.

Such an interesting combination of objects, such regal scenery, with the
reflection that many of their ornaments once contributed to the
decoration of Athens, transported me beyond myself. The sbirri thought
me distracted. True enough, I was stalking proudly about like an actor
in an ancient Grecian tragedy, lifting up his hands to the consecrated
fanes and images around, expecting the reply of his attendant chorus,
and declaiming the first verses of Œdipus Tyrannus.

This fit of enthusiasm was hardly subsided, when I passed the gates of
the palace into the great square, which received a faint gleam from its
casinos and palaces, just beginning to be lighted up, and to become the
resort of pleasure and dissipation. Numbers were walking in parties upon
the pavement; some sought the convenient gloom of the porticoes with
their favourites; others were earnestly engaged in conversation, and
filled the gay illuminated apartments, where they resorted to drink
coffee and sorbet, with laughter and merriment. A thoughtless giddy
transport prevailed; for, at this hour, anything like restraint seems
perfectly out of the question; and however solemn a magistrate or
senator may appear in the day, at night he lays up wig and robe and
gravity to sleep together, runs intriguing about in his gondola, takes
the reigning sultana under his arm, and so rambles half over the town,
which grows gayer and gayer as the day declines.

Many of the noble Venetians have a little suite of apartments in some
out-of-the-way corner, near the grand piazza, of which their families
are totally ignorant. To these they skulk in the dusk, and revel
undisturbed with the companions of their pleasures. Jealousy itself
cannot discover the alleys, the winding passages, the unsuspected doors,
by which these retreats are accessible. Many an unhappy lover, whose
mistress disappears on a sudden with some fortunate rival, has searched
for her haunts in vain. The gondoliers themselves, though the prime
managers of intrigue, are often unacquainted with these interior
cabinets. When a gallant has a mind to pursue his adventures with
mystery, he rows to the piazza, orders his bark to wait, meets his
goddess in the crowd, and vanishes from all beholders. Surely, Venice is
the city in the universe best calculated for giving scope to the
observations of a devil upon two sticks. What a variety of
lurking-places would one stroke of his crutch uncover!

Whilst the higher ranks were solacing themselves in their casinos, the
rabble were gathered in knots round the strollers and mountebanks,
singing and scaramouching in the middle of the square. I observed a
great number of Orientals amongst the crowd, and heard Turkish and
Arabic muttering in every corner. Here the Sclavonian dialect
predominated; there some Grecian jargon, almost unintelligible. Had
Saint Mark’s church been the wondrous tower, and its piazza the chief
square, of the city of Babylon, there could scarcely have been a greater
confusion of languages.

The novelty of the scene afforded me no small share of amusement, and I
wandered about from group to group, and from one strange exotic to
another, asking and being asked innumerable ridiculous questions, and
settling the politics of London and Constantinople, almost in the same
breath. This instant I found myself in a circle of grave Armenian
priests and jewellers; the next amongst Greeks and Dalmatians, who
accosted me with the smoothest compliments, and gave proof that their
reputation for pliability and address was not ill-founded.

I was entering into a grand harum-scarum discourse with some Russian
counts or princes, or whatever you please, just landed with dwarfs, and
footmen, and governors, and staring like me, about them, when Madame de
Rosenberg arrived, to whom I had the happiness of being recommended. She
presented me to some of the most distinguished of the Venetian families
at their great casino, which looks into the piazza, and consists of five
or six rooms, fitted up in a gay flimsy taste, neither rich nor elegant,
where were a great many lights, and a great many ladies negligently
dressed, their hair falling very freely about them, and innumerable
adventures written in their eyes. The gentlemen were lolling upon the
sofas, or lounging about the apartments.

The whole assembly seemed upon the verge of gaping, till coffee was
carried round. This magic beverage diffused a temporary animation; and,
for a moment or two, conversation moved on with a degree of pleasing
extravagance; but the flash was soon dissipated, and nothing remained
save cards and stupidity.

In the intervals of shuffling and dealing, some talked over the affairs
of the grand council with less reserve than I expected; and two or three
of them asked some feeble questions about the late tumults in London. It
was one o’clock before all the company were assembled, and I left them
at three, still dreaming over their coffee and card-tables. Trieze is
their favourite game: _uno_, _due_, _tre_, _quatro_, _cinque_, _fante_,
_cavallo re_, are eternally repeated; the apartments echoed no other
sound.

I wonder a lively people can endure such monotony, for I have been told
the Venetians are remarkably spirited; and so eager in the pursuit of
amusement as hardly to allow themselves any sleep. Some, for instance,
after declaiming in the Senate, walking an hour in the square, and
fidgeting about from one casino to another till morning dawns, will get
into a gondola, row across the Lagunes, take the post to Mestre or
Fusina, and jumble over craggy pavements to Treviso, breakfast in haste,
and rattle back again as if the Devil were charioteer: by eleven the
party is restored to Venice, resumes robe and periwig, and goes to
council.

This may be very true, and yet I will never cite the Venetians as
examples of vivacity. Their nerves unstrung by early debaucheries, allow
no natural flow of lively spirits, and at best but a few moments of a
false and feverish activity. The approaches of sleep, forced back by an
immoderate use of coffee, render them weak and listless, and the
facility of being wafted from place to place in a gondola, adds not a
little to their indolence. In short, I can scarcely regard their Eastern
neighbours in a more lazy light; who, thanks to their opium and their
harems, pass their lives in one perpetual doze.



LETTER IV.

     Excessive heat.--The Devil and Senegal.--A dreary shore.--Scene of
     the Doge’s nuptials with the sea.--Return to the Place of St.
     Mark.--Swarm of Lawyers.--Receptacles for anonymous
     accusations.--The Council of Ten.--Terrible punishments of its
     victims.--Statue of Neptune.--Fatal Waters.--Bridge of Sighs.--The
     Fondamenti Nuovi.--Conservatory of the Mendicanti.--An
     Oratorio.--Profound attention of the Audience.


August 4th, 1780.

The heats were so excessive in the night, that I thought myself several
times on the point of suffocation, tossed about like a wounded fish, and
dreamt of the Devil and Senegal. Towards sunrise, a faint breeze
restored me to life and reason. I slumbered till late in the day, and
the moment I was fairly awake, ordered my gondolier to row out to the
main ocean, that I might plunge into the waves, and hear and see nothing
but waters around me.

We shot off, wound amongst a number of sheds, shops, churches, casinos,
and palaces, growing immediately out of the canals, without any
apparent foundation. No quay, no terrace, not even a slab is to be seen
before the doors; one step brings you from the hall into the bark, and
the vestibules of the stateliest structures lie open to the waters, and
but just above their level. I observed several, as I glided along,
supported by rows of well-proportioned columns, adorned with terms and
vases, beyond which the eye generally discovers a grand court, and
sometimes a garden.

In about half an hour, we had left the thickest cluster of isles behind,
and, coasting the Place of St. Mark opposite to San Giorgio Maggiore,
whose elegant frontispiece was distinctly reflected by the calm waters,
launched into the blue expanse of sea, from which rise the Carthusian
and two or three other woody islands. I hailed the spot where I had
passed such a happy visionary evening, and nodded to my friends the
pines.

A few minutes more brought me to a dreary, sun-burnt shore, stalked over
by a few Sclavonian soldiers, who inhabit a castle hard by, go regularly
to an ugly unfinished church, and from thence, it is to be hoped, to
paradise; as the air of their barracks is abominable, and kills them
like blasted sheep.

Forlorn as this island appeared to me, I was told it was the scene of
the Doge’s pageantry at the feast of the Ascension; and the very spot to
which he sails in the Bucentaur, previously to wedding the sea. You have
heard enough, and if ever you looked into a show-box, seen full
sufficient of this gaudy spectacle, without my enlarging upon the topic.
I shall only say, that I was obliged to pursue, partly, the same road as
the nuptial procession, in order to reach the beach, and was broiled and
dazzled accordingly.

At last, after traversing some desert hillocks, all of a hop with toads
and locusts (amongst which English heretics have the honour of being
interred), I passed under an arch, and suddenly the boundless plains of
ocean opened to my view. I ran to the smooth sands, extending on both
sides out of sight, and dashed into the waves, which were coursing one
another with a gentle motion, and breaking lightly on the shores. The
tide rolled over me as I lay floating about, buoyed up by the water, and
carried me wheresoever it listed. It might have borne me far out into
the main before I had been aware, so totally was I abandoned to the
illusion of the moment. My ears were filled with murmuring undecided
sounds; my limbs, stretched languidly on the surge, rose or sunk just as
it swelled or subsided. In this passive state I remained, till the sun
cast a less intolerable light, and the fishing-vessels, lying out in the
bay at a great distance, spread their sails and were coming home.

Hastening back over the desert of locusts, I threw myself into the
gondola; and, no wind or wave opposing, was soon wafted across to those
venerable columns, so conspicuous in the Place of St. Mark. Directing my
course immediately to the ducal palace, I entered the grand court,
ascending the giants’ stairs, and examined at my leisure its
bas-reliefs. Then, taking the first guide that presented himself, I was
shown along several cloisters and corridors, sustained by innumerable
pillars, into the state apartments, which Tintoret and Paolo Veronese
have covered with the triumphs of their country.

A swarm of lawyers filled the Sala del Maggior Consiglio, and one of the
first advocates in the republic was pleading with all his might, before
a solemn row of senators. The eyes and ears of the assembly seemed
equally affected. Clouds of powder, and volleys of execrations issuing
every instant from the disputants, I got out of their way; and was led
from hall to hall, and from picture to picture, with exemplary
resignation. To be sure, I was heartily tired, but behaved with decency,
having never once expressed how much I wished the chefs-d’œuvre I had
been contemplating, less smoky and numerous.

At last, I reached once more the colonnades at the entrance, and caught
the sea-breeze in the open porticoes which front San Giorgio Maggiore.
The walls are covered in most places with grim visages sculptured in
marble, whose mouths gape for accusations, and swallow every lie that
malice and revenge can dictate. I wished for a few ears of the same
kind, dispersed about the Doge’s residence, to which one might apply
one’s own, and catch some account of the mysteries within; some little
dialogue between the three Inquisitors, or debate in the Council of Ten.

This is the tribunal which holds the wealthy nobility in continual awe;
before which they appear with trembling and terror; and whose summons
they dare not disobey. Sometimes, by way of clemency, it condemns its
victims to perpetual imprisonment, in close, stifling cells, between
the leads and beams of the palace; or, unwilling to spill the blood of a
fellow-citizen, generously sinks them into dungeons, deep under the
canals which wash its foundations; so that, above and below, its majesty
is contaminated by the abodes of punishment. What other sovereign could
endure the idea of having his immediate residence polluted with tears?
or revel in his halls, conscious that many of his species were consuming
their hours in lamentations above his head, and that but a few beams
separated him from the scene of their tortures? However gaily disposed,
could one dance with pleasure on a pavement, beneath which lie damp and
gloomy caverns, whose inhabitants waste away by painful degrees, and
feel themselves whole years a-dying? Impressed by these terrible ideas,
I could not regard the palace without horror, and wished for the
strength of a thousand antediluvians, to level it with the sea, lay open
the secret recesses of punishment, and admit free gales and sunshine
into every den.

When I had thus vented my indignation, I repaired to the statue of
Neptune, whom twenty ages ago I should have invoked to second my
enterprise. Once upon a time no deity had a freer hand at razing cities.
His execution was renowned throughout all antiquity, and the proudest
monarchs deprecated the wrath of KΡΕΙΩΝ ΕΝΟΣΙΧΘΩΝ. But, like
the other mighty ones of ancient days, his reign is past and his trident
disregarded. Formerly any wild spirit found favour in the eyes of
fortune, and was led along the career of glory to the deliverance of
captives and the extirpation of monsters; but, in our degenerate times,
this easy road to fame is no longer open, and the means of producing
such signal events are perplexed and difficult.

Abandoning therefore the sad tenants of the Piombi to their fate, I left
the courts, and stepping into my bark, was rowed down a canal
overshadowed by the lofty walls of the palace. Beneath these fatal
waters the dungeons I have also been speaking of are situated. There the
wretches lie marking the sound of the oars, and counting the free
passage of every gondola. Above, a marble bridge, of bold majestic
architecture, joins the highest part of the prisons to the secret
galleries of the palace; from whence criminals are conducted over the
arch to a cruel and mysterious death. I shuddered whilst passing below;
and believe it is not without cause, this structure is named PONTE DEI
SOSPIRI. Horrors and dismal prospects haunted my fancy upon my return. I
could not dine in peace, so strongly was my imagination affected; but
snatching my pencil, I drew chasms and subterraneous hollows, the domain
of fear and torture, with chains, racks, wheels, and dreadful engines in
the style of Piranesi. About sunset I went and refreshed myself with the
cool air and cheerful scenery of the Fondamenti nuovi, a vast quay or
terrace of white marble, which commands the whole series of isles, from
San Michele to Torcello,

    “That rise and glitter o’er the ambient tide.”

Nothing can be more picturesque than the groups of towers and cupolas
which they present, mixed with flat roofs and low buildings, and now and
then a pine or cypress. Afar off, a little woody isle, called Il
Deserto, swells from the ocean and diversifies its expanse.

When I had spent a delightful half-hour in viewing the distant isles, M.
de Benincasa accompanied me to the Mendicanti, one of the four
conservatorios, which give the best musical education conceivable to
near one hundred young women. You may imagine how admirably those of
the Mendicanti in particular are taught, since their establishment is
under the direction of Bertoni, who breathes around him the very soul of
harmony. The chapel in which we sat to hear the oratorio was dark and
solemn; a screen of lofty pillars, formed of black marble and highly
polished, reflected the lamps which burn perpetually before the altar.
Every tribune was thronged with people, whose profound silence showed
them worthy auditors of this master’s music. Here were no cackling old
women, or groaning Methodists, such as infest our English tabernacles,
and scare one’s ears with hoarse coughs accompanied by the naso
obligato. All were still and attentive, imbibing the plaintive notes of
the voices with eagerness; and scarce a countenance but seemed deeply
affected with David’s sorrows, the subject of the performance. I sat
retired in a solitary tribune, and felt them as my own. Night came on
before the last chorus was sung, and I still seem to hear its sacred
melody.



LETTER V.

     M. de Viloison and his attendant Laplander.--Drawings of ancient
     Venetian costume in one of the Gradanigo palaces.--Titian’s
     master-piece in the church of San Giovanni e Paolo.--The distant
     Euganean hills.


August 18, 1780.

It rains; the air is refreshed and I have courage to resume my pen,
which the sultry weather had forced to lie dormant so long. I like this
odd town of Venice, and find every day some new amusement in rambling
about its innumerable canals and alleys. Sometimes I pry about the great
church of Saint Mark, and examine the variety of marbles and mazes of
delicate sculpture with which it is covered. The cupola, glittering with
gold, mosaic, and paintings of half the wonders in the Apocalypse, never
fails to transport me to the period of the Eastern empire. I think
myself in Constantinople, and expect Michael Paleologus with all his
train. One circumstance alone prevents my observing half the treasures
of the place, and holds down my fancy just springing into the air: I
mean the vile stench which exhales from every recess and corner of the
edifice, and which all the incense of the altars cannot subdue.

When no longer able to endure this noxious atmosphere, I run up the
Campanile in the piazza, and seating myself amongst the pillars of the
gallery, breathe the fresh gales which blow from the Adriatic; survey at
my leisure all Venice beneath me, with its azure sea, white sails, and
long tracks of islands shining in the sun. Having thus laid in a
provision of wholesome breezes, I brave the vapours of the canals, and
venture into the most curious and murky quarters of the city, in search
of Turks and Infidels, that I may ask as many questions as I please
about Cairo and Damascus.

Asiatics find Venice very much to their taste, and all those I conversed
with allowed its customs and style of living had a good deal of
conformity to their own. The eternal lounging in coffee-houses and
sipping of sorbets agree perfectly well with the inhabitants of the
Ottoman empire, who stalk about here in their proper dresses, and smoke
their own exotic pipes, without being stared and wondered at as in most
other European capitals. Some few of these Orientals are communicative
and enlightened; but, generally speaking, they know nothing beyond the
rule of three, and the commonest transactions of mercantile affairs.

The Greeks are by far a more lively generation, still retaining their
propensity to works of genius and imagination. Metastasio has been
lately translated into their modern language, and some obliging papa or
other has had the patience to put the long-winded romance of Clelia into
a Grecian dress. I saw two or three of these volumes exposed on a stall,
under the grand arcades of the public library, as I went one day to
admire the antiques in its vestibules.

Whilst I was intent upon my occupation, a little door, I never should
have suspected, flew open, and out popped Monsieur de Viloison, from a
place where nothing, I believe, but broomsticks and certain other
utensils were ever before deposited. This gentleman, the most active
investigator of Homer since the days of the good bishop of Thessalonica,
bespatters you with more learning in a minute than others communicate in
half a year; quotes Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, &c. with formidable
fluency; and drove me from one end of the room to the other with a storm
of erudition. Syllables fell thicker than hail, and in an instant I
found myself so weighed down and covered, that I prayed, for mercy’s
sake, to be introduced, by way of respite, to a Laplander whom he leads
about as a curiosity; a poor harmless good sort of a soul, calm and
indifferent, who has acquired the words of several Oriental languages to
perfection: ideas he has in none.

We went all together to view a collection of medals in one of the
Gradanigo palaces, and two or three inestimable volumes, filled with
paintings that represent the dress of the ancient Venetians; so that I
had an opportunity of observing to perfection all the Lapland
nothingness of my companion. What a perfect void! Cold and silent as the
polar regions, not one passion ever throbbed in his bosom; not one
bright ray of fancy ever glittered in his mind; without love or anger,
pleasure or pain, his days fleet smoothly along: all things considered,
I must confess I envied such comfortable apathy.

After having passed an instructive hour in examining the medals and
drawings, M. de Viloison proposed conducting me to the Armenian convent,
but I begged to be excused, and went to San Giovanni e Paolo, a church
to be held most holy in the annals of painting, since it contains that
masterpiece of Titian, the martyrdom of the hermits St. Paul and St.
Peter.

In the evening I rowed out as usual

    “On the clear hyaline, the glassy sea,”

to observe the effect of sunset on the tufted gardens of the Giudeca,
and to contemplate the distant Euganean hills, once the happiest region
of Italy; where wandering nations enjoyed the simplicity of a pastoral
life, long before the arrival of Antenor. In these primeval days deep
forests and extensive pastures covered the shores of the Adriatic, and
innumerable flocks hung on the brow of the mountains. This golden period
ended upon the incursion of the Trojans and Heneti; who, led by Antenor,
drove away the unfortunate savages, and possessed themselves of their
habitations.



LETTER VI.

     Isles of Burano, Torcello, and Mazorbo.--The once populous city of
     Altina.--An excursion.--Effects of our music on the inhabitants of
     the Islands.--Solitary fields infested by serpents.--Remains of
     ancient sculpture.--Antique and fantastic ornaments of the
     Cathedral of Torcello.--San Lorenzo’s chair.--Dine in a
     Convent.--The Nuns.--Oratorio of Sisera.--Remarks on the
     music.--Singing of the Marchetti.--A female orchestra.


I am just returned from visiting the isles of Burano, Torcello, and
Mazorbo, distant about five miles from Venice. To these amphibious spots
the Romans, inhabitants of eastern Lombardy, fled from the rapine of
Attila; and, if we may believe Cassiodorus, there was a time when they
presented a beautiful appearance. Beyond them, on the coast of the
Lagunes, rose the once populous city of Altina, with its six stately
gates, which Dandolo mentions. Its neighbourhood was scattered with
innumerable villas and temples, composing altogether a prospect which
Martial compares to Baiæ:

    “Æmula Baianis Altini littora villis.”

But this agreeable scene, like so many others, is passed entirely away,
and has left nothing, except heaps of stones and mis-shapen fragments,
to vouch for its former magnificence. Two of the islands, Costanziaco
and Amiano, that are imagined to have contained the bowers and gardens
of the Altinatians, have sunk beneath the waters; those which remain are
scarcely worthy to rise above their surface.

Though I was persuaded little was left to be seen above ground, I could
not deny myself the imaginary pleasure of treading a corner of the earth
once so adorned and cultivated; and of walking over the roofs, perhaps,
of undiscovered palaces. M. de R. to whom I communicated my ideas,
entered at once into the scheme; hiring therefore a _peiotte_, we took
some provisions and music (to us equally necessaries of life) and
launched into the canal, between Saint Michael and Murano. Our
instruments played several delightful airs, that called forth the
inhabitants of every island, and held them in silence, as if
spell-bound, on the edge of their quays and terraces, till we were out
of hearing.

Leaving Murano far behind, Venice and its world of turrets began to
sink on the horizon, and the low desert isles beyond Mazorbo to lie
stretched out before us. Now we beheld vast wastes of purple flowers,
and could distinguish the low hum of the insects which hover above them;
such was the stillness of the place. Coasting these solitary fields, we
wound amongst several serpentine canals, bordered by gardens of figs and
pomegranates, with neat Indian-looking inclosures of cane and reed: an
aromatic plant, which the people justly dignify with the title of marine
incense, clothes the margin of the waters. It proved very serviceable in
subduing a musky odour, which attacked us the moment we landed, and
which proceeds from serpents that lurk in the hedges. These animals, say
the gondoliers, defend immense treasures which lie buried under the
ruins. Woe to those who attempt to invade them, or to pry too cautiously
about!

Not choosing to be devoured, we left many a mound of fragments
unnoticed, and made the best of our way to a little green, bounded on
one side by a miserable shed, decorated with the name of the Podesta’s
residence, and on the other by a circular church. Some remains of
tolerable antique sculpture are enchased in the walls; and the dome,
supported by pillars of a smooth Grecian marble, though uncouth and
ill-proportioned, impresses a sort of veneration, and transports the
fancy to the twilight glimmering period when it was raised.

Having surveyed what little was visible, and given as much career to our
imaginations as the scene inspired, we walked over a soil composed of
crumbling bricks and cement to the cathedral; whose arches, in the
ancient Roman style, convinced us that it dates at least as high as the
sixth or seventh century.

Nothing can well be more fantastic than the ornaments of this structure,
formed from the ruins of the Pagan temples of Altina, and encrusted with
a gilt mosaic, like that which covers our Edward the Confessor’s tomb.
The pavement, composed of various precious marbles, is richer and more
beautiful than one could have expected, in a place where every other
object savours of the grossest barbarism. At the farther end, beyond the
altar, appears a semicircular niche, with seats like the gradines of a
diminutive amphitheatre; above rise the quaint forms of the apostles, in
red, blue, green, and black mosaic, and in the midst of the group a
sort of marble chair, cool and penitential enough, where Saint Lorenzo
Giustiniani sat to hold a provincial council, the Lord knows how long
ago! The fount for holy water stands by the principal entrance, fronting
this curious recess, and seems to have belonged to some place of Gentile
worship. The figures of horned imps clinging round its sides, more
devilish, more Egyptian, than any I ever beheld. The dragons on old
china are not more whimsical; filled with bats’ blood it would have been
an admirable present to the sabbath of witches, and have cut a capital
figure in their orgies. The sculpture is not the most delicate, but I
cannot say a great deal about it, as very little light reaches the spot
where it is fixed: indeed, the whole church is far from luminous, its
windows being narrow and near the roof, with shutters composed of blocks
of marble, which nothing but the whirlwinds of the last day, one should
think, would move from their hinges.

By the time we had examined every nook and corner of this singular
edifice, and tried to catch some small portion of sanctity by sitting in
San Lorenzo’s chair, dinner was prepared in a neighbouring convent, and
the nuns, allured by the sound of our flutes and oboes, peeped out of
their cells and showed themselves by dozens at the grate. Some few
agreeable faces and interesting eyes enlivened the dark sisterhood; all
seemed to catch a gleam of pleasure from the music; two or three of
them, probably the last immured, let fall a tear, and suffered the
recollection of the world and its profane joys to interrupt for a moment
their sacred tranquillity.

We stayed till the sun was low, on purpose that they might listen as
long as possible to a harmony which seemed to issue, as the old abbess
expressed herself, from the gates of paradise ajar. A thousand
benedictions consecrated our departure; twilight came on just as we
entered the bark and rowed out upon the waves, agitated by a fresh gale,
but fearing nothing under the protection of Santa Margherita, whose good
wishes our music had secured.

In two hours we were safely landed at the Fondamenti nuovi, and went
immediately to the Mendicanti, where they were performing the oratorio
of Sisera. The composer, a young man, had displayed great fire and
originality in this performance; and a knowledge of character seldom
found in the most celebrated masters. The supplication of the thirsty
chieftain, and Jael’s insinuating arts and pious treachery, are
admirably expressed; but the agitation and boding slumbers which precede
his death, are imagined in the highest strain of genius. The terror and
agony of his dreams made me start, more than once, from my seat; and all
the horrors of his assassination seemed full before me.

Too much applause cannot be given to the Marchetti, who sang the part of
Sisera, and seconded the composer’s ideas by the most feeling and
spirited execution. There are few things I shall regret more on leaving
Venice, than this conservatorio. Whenever I am musically given, I fly to
it, and hear the most striking finales in Paesiello’s and Anfossi’s
operas, as long and often as I please.

The sight of the orchestra still makes me smile. You know, I suppose, it
is entirely of the feminine gender, and that nothing is more common than
to see a delicate white hand journeying across an enormous double bass,
or a pair of roseate cheeks puffing, with all their efforts, at a French
horn. Some that are grown old and Amazonian, who have abandoned their
fiddles and their lovers, take vigorously to the kettle-drum; and one
poor limping lady, who had been crossed in love, now makes an admirable
figure on the bassoon.

Good night! I am quite exhausted with composing a chorus for this
angelic choir. The poetry I send you. The music takes up too much room
to travel at present. One day or other, perhaps, we may hear it in some
dark grove, when the moon is eclipsed and nature in alarm.

This is not the last letter you would receive from Venice, were I not
hurrying to Lucca, where Pacchierotti sings next week, in Bertoni’s
opera of Quinto Fabio.



LETTER VII.

     Coast of Fusina.--The Brenta.--A Village of
     Palaces.--Fiesso.--Exquisite singing of the Galuzzi.--Marietta
     Cornaro.--Scenes of enchantment and fascination.


I was sorry to leave Venice, and regretted my peaceful excursions upon
the Adriatic. No bright rays illuminated my departure, the sun was
concealed in clouds; but the coolness and perfume of the air made ample
amends for his absence.

About an hour’s rowing from the isle of Saint Giorgio in Alga, brought
us to the coast of Fusina, right opposite the opening where the Brenta
mixes with the sea. This river flows calmly between banks of verdure,
crowned by poplars, with vines twining round every stalk, and depending
from tree to tree in beautiful festoons. Beds of mint and iris clothe
the brink of the stream, except where interrupted by a tall growth of
reeds and osiers. The morning continued to lower as we advanced; scarce
a wind ventured to breathe: all was still and placid as the surface of
the river. No sound struck my ears except the bargemen hallooing to open
the sluices, and deepen the water.

As yet I had not perceived an habitation, nor any other objects than
green inclosures and fields of Turkish corn, shaded with vines and
poplars. It grew late before we glided along by the Mira, a village of
palaces, whose courts and gardens, as magnificent as statues, terraces,
and vases can make them, are far from composing a rural prospect.

Such artificial scenery not engaging much of my attention, we stayed no
longer than our dinner required, and reached the Dolo an hour before
sunset. Passing the great sluices, whose gates opened with a thundering
noise, we continued our course along the peaceful Brenta, winding its
broad full stream through impenetrable copses. Day was about to close
when we reached Fiesso; and it being a misty evening, I could scarcely
distinguish the pompous façade of the Pisani palace. That of Cornaro,
where we were engaged to sup, looks upon a broad mass of foliage which
I contemplated with pleasure as it sank in the dusk.

We walked a long while under a pavilion stretched before the entrance,
breathing the freshness of the wood after a shower which had lately
fallen. The Galuzzi sang some of her father Ferandini’s compositions
with surprising energy; her cheek was flushed, her eyes glistened; the
whole tone of her countenance was that of a person rapt and inspired. I
forgot both time and place while she was singing. The night stole
imperceptibly away, before I awoke from my trance.

I do not recollect ever to have passed an evening, which every
circumstance conspired to render so full of charm. In general, my
musical pleasures suffer terrible abatements from the phlegm and
stupidity of my neighbourhood; but here, every one seemed to catch the
flame, and to listen with reciprocal delight. Marietta Cornaro, whose
lively talents are the boast of the Venetians, threw quick around her
the glancing fires of genius.

What with the song of the Galuzzi, and those intellectual meteors, I
scarcely knew to what element I was transported, and doubted for
several moments, whether I was not fallen into a celestial dream: to
wake was painful, and it was not without much lingering reluctance I
left these scenes of enchantment and fascination, repeating with
melancholy earnestness that pathetic sonnet of Petrarch’s--

    O giorno, o ora, o ultimo momento,
    O stelle congiurate a’ impoverirme!
    O fido sguardo, or che volei tu dirme,
    Partend’ io, per non esser mai contento?



LETTER VIII.

     Reveries.--Walls of Padua.--Confused Pile dedicated to Saint
     Anthony.--Devotion at his Shrine.--Penitential
     Worshippers.--Magnificent Altar.--Sculpture of Sansovino.--Colossal
     Chamber like Noah’s Ark.


The splendour of the rising sun, for once in my life, drew little of my
attention. I was too deeply plunged in my reveries, to notice the
landscape which lay before me; and the walls of Padua presented
themselves some time ere I was aware. At any other moment, how sensibly
should I have been affected with their appearance! How many ideas of
Antenor and his Trojans, would have thronged into my memory! but now I
regarded the scene with indifference, and passed many a palace, and many
a woody garden, with my eyes riveted to the ground. The first object
that appeared upon lifting them up, was a confused pile of spires and
cupolas, dedicated to blessed Saint Anthony, one of whose most eloquent
sermons the great Addison has translated _con amore_, and in his very
best manner.

You are too well apprised of the veneration I have always entertained
for this inspired preacher, to doubt that I immediately repaired to his
shrine. Mine was a disturbed spirit, and required all the balm of Saint
Anthony’s kindness to appease it. Perhaps you will say I had better have
gone to bed, and applied myself to my sleepy friend, the pagan divinity.
It is probable that you are in the right; but I could not retire to rest
without first venting some portion of effervescence in sighs and
supplications. The nave was filled with decrepit women and feeble
children, kneeling by baskets of vegetables and other provisions; which,
by good Anthony’s interposition, they hoped to sell advantageously in
the course of the day. Beyond these, nearer the choir, and in a gloomier
part of the edifice, knelt a row of rueful penitents, smiting their
breasts, and lifting their eyes to heaven. Further on, in front of the
dark recess, where the sacred relics are deposited, a few desperate,
melancholy sinners lay prostrate.

To these I joined myself. The sunbeams had not yet penetrated into this
religious quarter; and the only light it received proceeded from the
golden lamps, which hang in clusters round the sanctuary. A lofty altar,
decked with the most lavish magnificence, supports the shrine. Those who
are profoundly touched with its sanctity, may approach, and walking
round, look through the crevices of the tomb, which, it is observed,
exude a balsamic odour. But supposing a traveller ever so heretical, I
would advise him by no means to neglect this pilgrimage; since every
part of the recess he visits is decorated with exquisite sculptures.
Sansovino and other renowned artists have vied with each other in
carving the alto relievos of the arcade, which, for design and
execution, would do honour to the sculptors of antiquity.

Having observed these objects with less exactness than they merited, I
hastened to the inn, luckily hard by, and one of the best I am
acquainted with. Here I soon fell asleep in defiance of sunshine. It is
true my slumbers were not a little agitated. The saint had been deaf to
my prayer, and I still found myself a frail, infatuated mortal.

At five I got up; we dined, and afterwards scarcely knowing, nor much
caring, what became of us, we strolled to the great hall of the town;
an enormous edifice, larger considerably than that of Westminster, but
free from stalls, or shops, or nests of litigation. The roof, one
spacious vault of brown timber, casts a solemn gloom, which was still
increased by the lateness of the hour, and not diminished by the wan
light, admitted through the windows of pale blue glass. The size and
shape of this colossal chamber, the arching of the roof, with enormous
rafters stretching across it, and, above all, the watery gleams that
glanced through the dull casements, possessed my fancy with ideas of
Noah’s ark, and almost persuaded me I beheld that extraordinary vessel.
The representation one sees of it in many an old Dutch Bible, seems to
be formed upon this very model, and for several moments I indulged the
chimera of imagining myself confined within its precincts. Could I but
choose my companions, I should have no great objection to encounter a
deluge, and to float away a few months upon the waves!

We remained till night walking to and fro in the ark; it was then full
time to retire, as the guardian of the place was by no means formed to
divine our diluvian ideas.



LETTER IX.

     Church of St. Justina.--Tombs of remote antiquity.--Ridiculous
     attitudes of rheumatic devotees.--Turini’s music.--Another
     excursion to Fiesso.--Journey to the Euganean hills.--Newly
     discovered ruins.--High Mass in the great Church of Saint
     Anthony.--A thunder-storm.--Palladio’s Theatre at
     Vicenza.--Verona.--An aërial chamber.--Striking prospect from
     it.--The Amphitheatre.--Its interior.--Leave Verona.--Country
     between that town and Mantua.--German soldiers.--Remains of the
     palace of the Gonzagas.--Paintings of Julio Romano.--A ruined
     garden.--Subterranean apartments.


Immediately after breakfast we went to St. Justina’s. Both extremities
of the cross aisles are terminated by altar-tombs of very remote
antiquity, adorned with uncouth sculptures of the evangelists, supported
by wreathed columns of alabaster, round which, to my no small
astonishment, four or five gawky fellows were waddling on their knees,
persuaded, it seems, that this strange devotion would cure the
rheumatism, or any other aches with which they were afflicted. You can
have no conception of the ridiculous attitudes into which they threw
themselves; nor the difficulty with which they squeezed along, between
the middle column of the tomb and those which surround it. No criminal
in the pillory ever exhibited a more rueful appearance, no swine ever
scrubbed itself more fervently than these infatuated lubbers.

I left them hard at work, taking more exercise than had been their lot
for many a day; and, mounting into the organ gallery, listened to
Turini’s[7] music with infinite satisfaction. The loud harmonious tones
of the instrument filled the whole edifice; and, being repeated by the
echoes of its lofty domes and arches, produced a wonderful effect.
Turini, aware of this circumstance, adapts his compositions with great
intelligence to the place. Nothing can be more original than his style.
Deprived of sight by an unhappy accident, in the flower of his days, he
gave up his entire soul to music, and can scarcely be said to exist, but
from its mediums.

When we came out of St. Justina’s, the azure of the sky and the softness
of the air inclined us to think of some excursion. Where could I wish to
go, but to the place in which I had been so delighted? Besides, it was
proper to make the Cornaro another visit, and proper to see the Pisani
palace, which happily I had before neglected. All these proprieties
considered, Madame de R. accompanied me to Fiesso.

The sun was just sunk when we arrived. The whole ether in a glow, and
the fragrance of the arched citron alleys delightful. Beneath them I
walked in the cool, till the Galuzzi began once more her enchanting
melody. She sang till the fineness of the weather tempted us to quit the
palace for the banks of the Brenta. A profound calm reigned upon the
woods and the waters, and moonlight added serenity to a scene naturally
peaceful.

We supped late: before the Galuzzi had repeated the airs which had most
affected me, morning began to dawn.


September 8th.

The want of sound repose, after my return home, had thrown me into a
feverish and impatient mood. I had scarcely snatched some slight
refreshment, before I flew to the great organ at St. Justina’s; but
tried this time to compose myself, in vain.

Madame de Rosenberg, finding my endeavours unsuccessful, proposed, by
way of diverting my attention, that we should set out immediately for
one of the Euganean hills, about six or seven miles from Padua, at the
foot of which some antique baths had been very lately discovered. I
consented without hesitation, little concerned whither I went, or what
happened to me, provided the scene was often shifted. The lanes and
inclosures we passed, in our road to the hills, appeared in all the
gaiety that verdure, flowers, and sunshine could give them. But my
pleasures were overcast, and I beheld every object, however cheerful,
through a dusky medium.

Deeply engaged in conversation, distance made no impression, and I found
myself entering the meadow, over which the ruins are scattered, whilst I
imagined myself several miles distant. No scene could be more smiling
than this which here presented itself, or answer, in a fuller degree,
the ideas I had always formed of Italy.

Leaving our carriage at the entrance of the meadow, we traversed its
surface, and shortly perceived among the grass, an oblong basin,
incrusted with pure white marble. Most of the slabs are large and
perfect, apparently brought from Greece, and still retaining their
polished smoothness. The pipes to convey the waters are still perfectly
discernible; in short, the whole ground-plan may be easily traced. Near
the principal bath, we remarked the platforms of several circular
apartments, paved with mosaic, in a neat simple taste, far from
inelegant. Weeds have not yet sprung up amongst the crevices; and the
freshness of the ruin everywhere shows that it has not long been
exposed.

Theodoric is the prince to whom these structures are attributed; and
Cassiodorus, the prime chronicler of the country, is quoted to maintain
the supposition. My spirit was too much engaged to make any learned
parade, or to dispute upon a subject, which I abandon, with all its
importance, to calmer and less impatient minds.

Having taken a cursory view of the ruins, we ascended the hill just
above them, and surveyed a prospect of the same nature, though in a more
lovely and expanded style than that which I beheld from Mosolente. Padua
crowns the landscape, with its towers and cupolas rising from a
continued grove; and, from the drawings I have seen, I should
conjecture that Damascus presents somewhat of a similar appearance.

Taking our eyes off this extensive prospect, we brought them home to the
fragments beneath our feet. The walls exhibit the _opus reticulatum_, so
common in the environs of Naples. A sort of terrace, with the remaining
bases of columns which encircle the hill, leads me to imagine here were
formerly arcades and porticos, constructed for enjoying the view; for on
the summit I could trace no vestiges of any considerable edifice, and am
therefore inclined to conclude, that nothing more than a colonnade
surrounded the hill, leading perhaps to some slight fane, or pavilion,
for the recreation of the bathers below.

A profusion of aromatic flowers covered the slopes, and exhaled
additional perfumes, as the sun declined, and the still hour approached,
which was wont to spread over my mind a divine composure, and to restore
the tranquillity I might have lost in the day. But now it diffused its
reviving coolness in vain, and I remained, if possible, more sad and
restless than before.


September 9th.

You may imagine how I felt when the hour of leaving Padua drew near. It
happened to be a festival, and high mass was celebrated at the great
church of Saint Anthony in all its splendour. The ceremony was about
half over when such a peal of thunder reverberated through the vaults
and cupolas, as I expected would have shaken them to their foundations.
The principal dome appeared invested with a sheet of fire; and the
effect of terror produced upon the majority of the congregation, by this
sudden lighting up of the most gloomy recesses of the edifice, was so
violent that they rushed out in the wildest confusion. Had my faith been
less lively, I should have followed their example; but, absorbed in the
thought of a separation from those to whom I felt fondly attached, I
remained till the ceremony ended; then took leave of Madame de R. with
heartfelt regret, and was driven away to Vicenza.


September 10th.

The morning being overcast, I went to Palladio’s theatre. It is
impossible to conceive a structure more truly classical, or to point out
a single ornament which has not the best antique authority. I am not in
the least surprised that the citizens of Vicenza enthusiastically gave
in to this great architect’s plan, and sacrificed large sums to erect
so beautiful a model. When finished, they procured, at a vast expense,
the representation of a Grecian tragedy, with its chorus and majestic
decorations.

After I had mused a long while in the most retired recess of the
edifice, fancying I had penetrated into a real and perfect monument of
antiquity, which till this moment had remained undiscovered, we set out
for Verona. The situation is striking and picturesque. A long line of
battlemented walls, flanked by venerable towers, mounts the hill in a
grand irregular sweep, and incloses the city with many a woody garden,
and grove of slender cypress. Beyond rises a group of mountains;
opposite to which a plain presents itself, decked with all the variety
of meads and thickets, olive-grounds and vineyards.

Amongst these our road kept winding till we entered the city gate, and
passed (the post knows how many streets and alleys in the way!) to the
inn, a lofty handsome-looking building; but so full that we were obliged
to take up with an apartment on its very summit, open to all the winds,
like the magic chamber Apuleius mentions, and commanding the roofs of
half Verona. Here and there a pine shot up amongst them, and the shady
hills, terminating the perspective of walls and turrets, formed a
romantic scene.

Placing our table in a balcony, to enjoy the prospect with greater
freedom, we feasted upon fish from the Lago di Guarda, and the delicious
fruits of the country. Thus did I remain, solacing myself, breathing the
cool air, and remarking the tints of the mountains. Neither paintings
nor antiques could tempt me from my aërial situation; I refused hunting
out the famous works of Paul Veronese scattered over the town, and sat
like the owl in the Georgics,

    Solis et occasum servans de culmine summo.

Twilight drawing on, I left my haunt, and stealing down stairs, enquired
for a guide to conduct me to the amphitheatre, perhaps the most entire
monument of Roman days. The people of the house, instead of bringing me
a quiet peasant, officiously delivered me up to a professed antiquary,
one of those precise plausible young men, to whom, God help me! I have
so capital an aversion. This sweet spark displayed all his little
erudition, and flourished away upon cloacas and vomitoriums with
eternal fluency. He was very profound in the doctrine of conduits, and
knew to admiration how the filthiness of all the amphitheatre was
disposed of.

But perceiving my inattention, and having just grace enough to remark
that I chose one side of the street when he preferred the other, and
sometimes trotted through despair in the kennel, he made me a pretty
bow, I threw him half-a-crown, and seeing the ruins before me, traversed
a gloomy arcade and emerged alone into the arena. A smooth turf covers
its surface, from which a spacious sweep of gradines rises to a majestic
elevation. Four arches, with their simple Doric ornament, alone remain
of the grand circular arcade which once crowned the highest seats of the
amphitheatre; and, had it not been for Gothic violence, this part of the
structure would have equally resisted the ravages of time. Nothing can
be more exact than the preservation of the gradines; not a block has
sunk from its place, and whatever trifling injuries they may have
received have been carefully repaired. The two chief entrances are
rebuilt with solidity and closed by portals, no passage being permitted
through the amphitheatre except at public shows and representations,
sometimes still given in the arena.

When I paced slowly across it, silence reigned undisturbed, and nothing
moved, except the weeds and grasses which skirt the walls and tremble
with the faintest breeze. Throwing myself upon the grass in the middle
of the arena, I enjoyed the freedom of my situation, its profound
stillness and solitude. How long I remained shut in by endless gradines
on every side, wrapped as it were in the recollections of perished ages,
is not worth noting down; but when I passed from the amphitheatre to the
opening before it, night was drawing on, and the grand outline of a
terrific feudal fortress, once inhabited by the Scaligeri, alone dimly
visible.


September 11th.

Traversing once more the grand piazza, and casting a last glance upon
the amphitheatre, we passed under a lofty arch which terminates the
perspective, and left Verona by a wide, irregular, picturesque street,
commanding, whenever you look back, a striking scene of towers, cypress,
and mountains.

The country, between this beautiful town and Mantua, presents one
continued grove of dwarfish mulberries, with here and there a knot of
poplars, and sometimes a miserable shed. Mantua itself rises out of a
morass formed by the Mincio, whose course, in most places, is so choked
up with reeds as to be scarcely discernible. It requires a creative
imagination to discover any charms in such a prospect, and a strong
prepossession not to be disgusted with the scene where Virgil was born.

The beating of drums, and sight of German whiskers, finished what
croaking frogs and stagnant ditches had begun. Every classic idea being
scared by such sounds and such objects, I dined in dudgeon, and refused
stirring out till late in the evening.

A few paces from the town stand the remains of the palace where the
Gonzagas formerly resided. This I could not resist looking at, and was
amply rewarded. Several of the apartments, adorned by the bold pencil of
Julio Romano, merit the most exact attention; and the arabesques, with
which the stucco ceilings are covered, equal those of the Vatican. Being
painted in fresco upon damp neglected walls, each year diminishes their
number, and every winter moulders some beautiful figure away.

The subjects, mostly from antique fables, are treated with all the
purity and gracefulness of Raphael; the story of Polypheme is very
conspicuous. Acis appears, reclined with his beloved Galatea, on the
shore of the ocean, whilst their gigantic enemy, seated above on the
brow of Ætna, seems by the paleness and horrors of his countenance to
meditate some terrible revenge.

When it was too late to examine the paintings any longer, I walked into
a sort of court, or rather garden, which had been decorated with
fountains and antique statues. Their fragments still remain amongst
weeds and beds of flowers, for every corner of the place is smothered
with vegetation. Here nettles grow thick and rampant; there, tuberoses
and jessamine spring from mounds of ruins, which during the elegant
reign of the Gonzagas led to grottoes and subterranean apartments,
concealed from vulgar eyes, and sacred to the most refined enjoyments.



LETTER X.

     Cross the Po.--A woody country.--The Vintage.--Reggio.--Ridge of
     the Apennines.--Romantic ideas connected with those
     mountains.--Arrive at Modena.--Road to Bologna.--Magnificent
     Convent of Madonna del Monte.--Natural and political commotions in
     Bologna.--Proceed towards the mountains.--Dreary prospects.--The
     scenery improves.--Herds of goats.--A run with them.--Return to the
     carriage.--Wretched hamlet.--Miserable repast.


September 12th, 1780.

A shower, having fallen, the air was refreshed, and the drops still
glittered upon the vines, through which our road conducted us. Three or
four miles from Mantua the scene changed to extensive grounds of rice,
and meads of the tenderest verdure watered by springs, whose frequent
meanders gave to the whole prospect the appearance of a vast green
carpet shot with silver. Further on we crossed the Po, and passing
Guastalla, entered a woody country full of inclosures and villages;
herds feeding in the meadows, and poultry parading before every wicket.

The peasants were busied in winnowing their corn; or, mounted upon the
elms and poplars, gathering the rich clusters from the vines that hang
streaming in braids from one branch to another. I was surprised to find
myself already in the midst of the vintage, and to see every road
crowded with carts and baskets bringing it along; you cannot imagine a
pleasanter scene.

Round Reggio it grew still more lively, and on the other side of that
sketch-inviting little city, I remarked many a cottage that Tityrus
might have inhabited, with its garden and willow hedge in flower,
swarming with bees. Our road, the smoothest conceivable, enabled us to
pass too rapidly through so cheerful a landscape. I caught glimpses of
fields and copses as we were driven along, that could have afforded me
amusement for hours, and orchards on gentle acclivities, beneath which I
could have walked till evening. The trees literally bent under their
loads of fruit, and innumerable ruddy apples lay scattered upon the
ground.

Beyond these rich masses of foliage, to which the sun lent additional
splendour, at the utmost extremity of the pastures, rose the irregular
ridge of the Apennines, whose deep blue presented a striking contrast
to the glowing colours of the foreground. I fixed my eyes on the chain
of distant mountains, and indulged a thousand romantic conjectures of
what was passing in their recesses--hermits absorbed in
prayer--beautiful Contadine fetching water from springs, and banditti
conveying their victims, perhaps at this very moment, to caves and
fastnesses.

Such were the dreams that filled my fancy, and kept it incessantly
employed till it was dusk, and the moon began to show herself; the same
moon which but a few nights ago had seen me so happy at Fiesso. I left
the carriage, and running into the dim haze, abandoned myself to the
recollections it excited....

At length, having wandered where chance or the wildness of my fancy led,
till the lateness of the evening alarmed me, I regained the chaise as
fast as I could, and arrived between twelve and one at Modena, the place
of my destination.


September 13th.

We traversed a champagne country in our way to Bologna, whose richness
and fertility encreased in proportion as we drew near that celebrated
mart of lap-dogs and sausages. A chain of hills commands the city,
variegated with green inclosures and villas innumerable. On the highest
acclivity of this range appears the magnificent convent of Madonna del
Monte, embosomed in wood and joined to the town by a corridor a league
in length. This vast portico ascending the steeps and winding amongst
the thickets, sometimes concealed and sometimes visible, produces an
effect wonderfully grand and singular. I longed to have mounted the
height by so extraordinary a passage; and hope on some future day to be
better acquainted with Santa Maria del Monte.

At present I have very little indeed to say about Bologna (where I
passed only two hours) except that it is sadly out of humour, an
earthquake and Cardinal Buoncompagni having disarranged both land and
people. For half-a-year the ground continued trembling; and for these
last six months, the legate and senators have grumbled and scratched
incessantly; so that, between natural and political commotions, the
Bolognese must have passed an agreeable summer.

Such a report of the situation of things, you may suppose, was not
likely to retard my journey. I put off delivering my letters to another
opportunity, and proceeded immediately after dinner towards the
mountains. We were soon in the midst of crags and stony channels, that
stream with ten thousand rills in the winter season, but during the
summer months reflect every sunbeam, and harbour half the scorpions in
the country.

For many a toilsome league our prospect consisted of nothing but dreary
hillocks and intervening wastes, more barren and mournful than those to
which Mary Magdalene retired. Sometimes a crucifix or chapel peeped out
of the parched fern and grasses, with which these desolate fields are
clothed; and now and then we met a goggle-eyed pilgrim trudging along,
and staring about him as if he waited only for night and opportunity to
have additional reasons for hurrying to Loretto.

During three or four hours that we continued ascending, the scene
increased in sterility and desolation; but, at the end of our second
post, the landscape began to alter for the better: little green valleys
at the base of tremendous steeps, discovered themselves, scattered over
with oaks, and freshened with running waters, which the nakedness of the
impending rocks set off to advantage. The sides of the cliffs in general
consist of rude misshapen masses; but their summits are smooth and
verdant, and continually browsed by herds of white goats, which were
gambolling on the edge of the precipices as we passed beneath.

I joined one of these frisking assemblies, whose shadows were stretched
by the setting sun along the level herbage. There I sat a few minutes
whilst they shook their beards at me, and tried to scare me with all
their horns. Being tired with skipping and butting at me in vain, the
whole herd trotted away, and I after them. They led me a dance from crag
to crag and from thicket to thicket.

It was growing dusky apace, and wreaths of smoke began to ascend from
the mysterious depths of the valleys. I was ignorant what monster
inhabited such retirements, so gave over my pursuit lest some Polypheme
or other might make me repent it. I looked around, the carriage was out
of sight; but hearing the neighing of horses at a distance, I soon came
up with them, and mounted another rapid ascent, from whence an extensive
tract of cliff and forest land was discernible.

A chill wind blew from the highest peak of the Apennines, and made a
dismal rustle amongst the woods of chesnut that hung on the mountain’s
side, through which we were forced to pass. Walking out of the sound of
the carriage, I began interpreting the language of the leaves, not
greatly to my own advantage or that of any being in the universe. I was
no prophet of good, and had I but commanded an oracle, as ancient
visionaries were wont, I should have flung mischief about me.

How long I continued in this strange temper I cannot pretend to say, but
believe it was midnight before we emerged from the oracular forest, and
saw faintly before us an assemblage of miserable huts, where we were to
sleep. This wretched hamlet is suspended on the brow of a bleak
mountain, and every gust that stirs, shakes the whole village to its
foundations. At our approach two hags stalked forth with lanterns and
invited us with a grin, which I shall always remember, to a dish of
mustard and crows’ gizzards, a dish I was more than half afraid of
tasting, lest it should change me to some bird of darkness, condemned to
mope eternally on the black rafters of the cottage.

After repeated supplications we procured a few eggs, and some faggots to
make a fire. Pitching my bed in a warm corner I soon fell asleep, and
forgot all my cares and inquietudes.



LETTER XI.

     A sterile region.--Our descent into a milder landscape.--Distant
     view of Florence.--Moonlight effect.--Visit the Gallery.--Relics of
     ancient credulity.--Paintings.--A Medusa’s head by Leonardo da
     Vinci.--Curious picture by Polemberg.--The Venus de
     Medicis.--Exquisitely sculptured figure of Morpheus.--Vast
     Cathedral.--Garden of Boboli.--Views from different parts of
     it.--Its resemblance to an antique Roman garden.


September 14th, 1780.

The sun had not been long above the horizon, before we set forward upon
a craggy pavement hewn out of rough cliffs and precipices. Scarcely a
tree was visible, and the few that presented themselves began already to
shed their leaves. The raw nipping air of this desert with difficulty
spares a blade of vegetation; and in the whole range of these extensive
eminences I could not discover a single corn-field or pasture.
Inhabitants, you may guess, there were none. I would defy even a Scotch
highlander to find means of subsistence in so rude a soil.

Towards mid-day, we had surmounted the dreariest part of our journey,
and began to perceive a milder landscape. The climate improved as well
as the prospect, and after a continual descent of several hours, we saw
groves and villages in the dips of the hills, and met a string of mules
and horses laden with fruit. I purchased some figs and peaches from this
little caravan, and spread my repast upon a bank, in the midst of
lavender bushes in full bloom.

Continuing our route, we bade adieu to the realms of poverty and
barrenness, and entered a cultivated vale, shaded by woody acclivities.
Amongst these we wound along, between groves of poplar and cypress, till
late in the evening. Upon winding a hill we discovered Florence at a
distance surrounded with gardens and terraces rising one above another;
the full moon seemed to shine with a peculiar charm upon this favoured
region. Her serene light on the pale grey of the olive, gave a visionary
and Elysian appearance to the landscape, and I was sorry when I found
myself excluded from it by the gates of Florence.

I slept as well as my impatience would allow, till it was time next
morning (Sept. 15,) to visit the gallery, and worship the Venus de
Medicis. I felt, upon entering this world of refinement, as if I could
have taken up my abode in it for ever, but, confused with the multitude
of objects, I knew not on which first to bend my attention, and ran
childishly by the ample ranks of sculptures, like a butterfly in a
parterre, that skims before it fixes, over ten thousand flowers.

Having taken my course down one side of the gallery, I turned the angle
and discovered another long perspective, equally stored with
master-pieces of bronze and marble. A minute brought me to the extremity
of this range, vast as it was; then, flying down a third, adorned in the
same delightful manner, I paused under the bust of Jupiter Olympius; and
began to reflect a little more maturely upon the company in which I
found myself. Opposite, appeared the majestic features of Minerva,
breathing divinity: and Cybele, the mother of the gods.

Having regarded these powers with due veneration, I next cast my eyes
upon a black figure, whose attitude seemed to announce the deity of
sleep. You know my fondness for this drowsy personage, and that it is
not the first time I have quitted the most splendid society for him. I
found him at present, of touchstone, with the countenance of a towardly
brat, sleeping ill through indigestion. The artist had not conceived
very poetical ideas of the god, or else he never would have represented
him with so little grace and dignity.

Displeased at finding my favourite subject profaned, I perceived the
transports of enthusiasm beginning to subside, and felt myself calm
enough to follow the herd of guides and spectators from chamber to
chamber, cabinet to cabinet, without falling into errors of rapture and
admiration. We were led slowly and moderately through the large rooms,
containing the portraits of painters, good, bad, and indifferent, from
Raphael to Liotard; then into a museum of bronzes, which would afford
both amusement and instruction for years.

When I had rather alarmed than satisfied my curiosity by rapidly running
over a multitude of candelabrums, urns, and sacred utensils, we entered
a small luminous apartment, surrounded with cases richly decorated, and
filled with the most exquisite models of workmanship in bronze and
various metals, classed in exact order. Here are crowds of diminutive
deities and tutelary lars, to whom the superstition of former days
attributed those midnight murmurs which were believed to presage the
misfortunes of a family. Amongst these now neglected images are
preserved a vast number of talismans, cabalistic amulets, and other
grotesque relics of ancient credulity.

In the centre of the room I remarked a table, beautifully formed of
polished gems, and, near it, the statue of a genius with his familiar
serpent, and all his attributes; the guardian of the treasured
antiquities. From this chamber we were conducted into another, which
opens to that part of the gallery where the busts of Adrian and Antinous
are placed. Two pilasters, delicately carved in trophies and clusters of
ancient armour, stand on each side of the entrance; within are several
perfumed cabinets of miniatures, and a single column of oriental
alabaster about ten feet in height,

    Lucido e terso, e bianco, più che latte.

I put my guide’s patience to the proof, by lingering to admire the
column and cabinets. At last, the musk with which they are impregnated,
obliged me to desist, and I moved on to a suite of saloons, with low
arched roofs, glittering with arabesque, in azure and gold. Several
medallions appear amongst the wreaths of foliage, tolerably well
painted, with representations of splendid feasts and tournaments for
which Florence was once so famous.

A vast collection of small pictures, most of them Flemish, covers the
walls of these apartments. But nothing struck me more than a Medusa’s
head by Leonardo da Vinci. It appears just severed from the body and
cast on the damp pavement of a cavern: a deadly paleness covers the
countenance, and the mouth exhales a pestilential vapour; the snakes,
which fill almost the whole picture, beginning to untwist their folds;
one or two seemed already crept away, and crawling up the rock in
company with toads and other venomous reptiles.

Here are a great many Polembergs: one in particular, the strangest I
ever beheld. Instead of those soft scenes of woods and waterfalls he is
in general so fond of representing, he has chosen for his subject Virgil
ushering Dante into the regions of eternal punishment, amidst the ruins
of flaming edifices that glare across the infernal waters. These
mournful towers harbour innumerable shapes, all busy in preying upon the
damned. One capital devil, in the form of an enormous lobster, seems
very strenuously employed in mumbling a miserable mortal, who sprawls,
though in vain, to escape from his claws. This performance, whimsical as
it is, retains all that softness of tint and delicacy of pencil for
which Polemberg is so renowned.

Had not the subject so palpably contradicted the painter’s choice, I
should have passed over this picture, like a thousand more, and have
brought you immediately to the tribune. Need I say I was spell-bound the
moment I set my feet within it, and saw full before me the Venus de
Medicis? The warm ivory hue of the original marble is a beauty no copy
has ever imitated, and the softness of the limbs exceeded the liveliest
idea I had formed to myself of their perfection.

When I had taken my eyes reluctantly away from this beautiful object, I
cast them upon a Morpheus of white marble, which lies slumbering at the
feet of the goddess in the form of a graceful child. A dormant lion
serves him for a pillow; two ample wings, carved with the utmost
delicacy, are gathered under him; two others, budding from his temples,
half-concealed by a flow of lovely ringlets. His languid hands scarcely
hold a bunch of poppies: near him creeps a lizard, just yielding to his
influence. Nothing can be more just than the expression of sleep in the
countenance of the little divinity. His lion too is perfectly lulled,
and rests his muzzle upon his fore paws as quiet as a domestic spaniel.
My ill-humour at seeing this deity so grossly sculptured in the gallery,
was dissipated by the gracefulness of his appearance in the tribune. I
was now contented, for the artist had realized my ideas; and, if I may
venture my opinion, sculpture never arrived to higher perfection, and,
at the same time, kept more justly within its province. Sleeping figures
with me always produce the finest illusion; but when I see an archer in
the very act of discharging his arrow, a dancer with one foot in the
air, or a gladiator extending his fist to all eternity, I grow tired,
and view such wearisome attitudes with infinitely more admiration than
pleasure.

The morning was gone before I could snatch myself from the tribune. In
my way home, I looked into the cathedral, an enormous fabric, inlaid
with the richest marbles, and covered with stars and chequered work,
like an old-fashioned cabinet. The architect seems to have turned his
building inside out; nothing in art being more ornamented than the
exterior, and few churches so simple within. The nave is vast and
solemn, the dome amazingly spacious, with the high altar in its centre,
inclosed by a circular arcade near two hundred feet in diameter. There
is something imposing in this decoration, as it suggests the idea of a
sanctuary, into which none but the holy ought to penetrate. However
profane I might feel myself, I took the liberty of entering, and sat
down in a niche. Not a ray of light reaches this sacred inclosure, but
through the medium of narrow windows, high in the dome, and richly
painted. A sort of yellow tint predominates, which gives additional
solemnity to the altar, and paleness to the votary before it. I was
sensible of the effect, and obtained at least the colour of sanctity.

Having remained some time in this pious hue, I returned home and feasted
upon grapes and ortolans with great edification; then walked to one of
the bridges across the Arno, and from thence to the garden of Boboli,
which lies behind the Grand Duke’s palace, stretched out on the side of
a mountain. I ascended terrace after terrace, robed by a thick underwood
of bay and myrtle, above which rise several nodding towers, and a long
sweep of venerable wall, almost entirely concealed by ivy. You would
have been enraptured with the broad masses of shade and dusky alleys
that opened as I advanced, with white statues of fauns and sylvans
glimmering amongst them; some of which pour water into sarcophagi of the
purest marble, covered with antique relievos. The capitals of columns
and ancient friezes are scattered about as seats.

On these I reposed myself, and looked up to the cypress groves which
spring above the thickets; then, plunging into their retirements, I
followed a winding path, which led me by a series of steep ascents to a
green platform overlooking the whole extent of wood, with Florence deep
beneath, and the tops of the hills which encircle it jagged with pines;
here and there a convent, or villa, whitening in the sun. This scene
extends as far as the eye can reach.

Still ascending I attained the brow of the eminence, and had nothing but
the fortress of Belvedere, and two or three open porticos above me. On
this elevated situation, I found several walks of trellis-work, clothed
with luxuriant vines. A colossal statue of Ceres, her hands extended in
the act of scattering fertility over the country, crowns the summit.

Descending alley after alley, and bank after bank, I came to the
orangery in front of the palace, disposed in a grand amphitheatre, with
marble niches relieved by dark foliage, out of which spring cedars and
tall aërial cypresses. This spot brought the scenery of an antique Roman
garden so vividly into my mind, that, lost in the train of recollections
this idea excited, I expected every instant to be called to the table of
Lucullus hard by, in one of the porticos, and to stretch myself on his
purple triclinias; but waiting in vain for a summons till the approach
of night, I returned delighted with a ramble that had led my imagination
so far into antiquity.

Friday, Sept. 16.--My impatience to hear Pacchierotti called me up with
the sun. I blessed a day which was to give me the greatest of musical
pleasures, and travelled gaily towards Lucca, along a fertile plain,
bounded by rocky hills, and scattered over with towns and villages. We
passed Pistoia in haste, and about three in the afternoon entered the
Lucchese territory, by a clean paved road, which runs through chestnut
copses bordered with broom in blossom, and an immense variety of heaths;
a red soil peeping forth from the vegetation, adds to the richness of
the landscape, which swells all the way into gentle acclivities: and at
about seven or eight miles from the city spreads all round into
mountains, green to their very summits, and diversified with gardens and
palaces. More pleasing scenery can with difficulty be imagined: I was
quite charmed with beholding it, as I knew very well that the opera
would keep me a long while chained down in its neighbourhood.

Happy for me that the environs of Lucca were so beautiful; since I defy
almost any city to contain more ugliness within its walls. Narrow
streets and dismal alleys; wide gutters and cracked pavements; everybody
in black, according with the gloom of their habitations, which however
are large and lofty enough of conscience; but having all grated windows,
they convey none but dark and dungeon-like ideas. My spirits fell many
degrees upon entering this sable capital; and when I found Friday was
meagre day, in every sense of the word, with its inhabitants, and no
opera to be performed, I grew wofully out of humour. Instead of a
delightful symphony, I heard nothing for some time but the clatter of
plates and the swearing of waiters.

Amongst the number of my tormentors was a whole Genoese family of
distinction; very fat and sleek, and terribly addicted to the violin.
Overhearing my sad complaint for want of music, they most generously
determined I should have my fill of it, and, getting together a few
scrapers, began such an academia as drove me to the further end of a
very spacious apartment, whilst they possessed the other. The hopes and
heir of the family--a chubby dolt of between eighteen and nineteen, his
uncle, a thickset smiling personage, and a brace of innocent-looking
younger brothers, plied their fiddles with a hearty good will, waggled
their double chins, and played out of tune with the most happy
unconsciousness, as amateurs are apt to do ninety-nine times in a
hundred.

Pacchierotti, whom they all worshipped in their heavy way, sat silent
the while in a corner; the second soprano warbled, not absolutely ill,
at the harpsichord; whilst the old lady, young lady, and attendant
females, kept ogling him with great perseverance. Those who could not
get in, squinted through the crevices of the door. Abbates and
greyhounds were fidgetting continually without. In short, I was so
persecuted with questions, criticisms, and concertos, that, pleading
headache and indisposition, I escaped about ten o’clock, and shook
myself when I got safe to my apartment like a worried spaniel.



LETTER XII.

     Rambles among the hills.--Excursions with Pacchierotti.--He catches
     cold in the mountains.--The whole Republic is in commotion, and
     send a deputation to remonstrate with the Singer on his
     imprudence.--The Conte Nobili.--Hill scenery.--Princely Castle and
     Gardens of the Garzoni Family.--Colossal Statue of Fame.--Grove of
     Ilex.--Endless bowers of Vines.--Delightful Wood of the Marchese
     Mansi.--Return to Lucca.


Lucca, Sept. 25, 1780.

You ask me how I pass my time. Generally upon the hills, in wild spots
where the arbutus flourishes; from whence I may catch a glimpse of the
distant sea; my horse tied to a cypress, and myself cast upon the grass,
like Palmerin of Oliva, with a tablet and pencil in my hand, a basket of
grapes by my side, and a crooked stick to shake down the chestnuts. I
have bidden adieu, several days ago, to the visits, dinners,
conversazioni, and glories of the town, and only go thither in an
evening, just time enough for the grand march which precedes
Pacchierotti in Quinto Fabio. Sometimes he accompanies me in my
excursions, to the utter discontent of the Lucchese, who swear I shall
ruin their Opera, by leading him such extravagant rambles amongst the
mountains, and exposing him to the inclemency of winds and showers. One
day they made a vehement remonstrance, but in vain; for the next, away
we trotted over hill and dale, and stayed so late in the evening, that a
cold and hoarseness were the consequence.

The whole republic was thrown into commotion, and some of its prime
ministers were deputed to harangue Pacchierotti upon the rides he had
committed. Had the safety of their mighty state depended upon this
imprudent excursion, they could not have vociferated with greater
violence. You know I am rather energetic, and, to say truth, I had very
nearly got into a scrape of importance, and drawn down the execrations
of the Gonfalonier and all his council upon my head by openly declaring
our intention of taking, next morning, another ride over the rocks, and
absolutely losing ourselves in the clouds which veil their acclivities.
These terrible threats were put into execution, and yesterday we made a
tour of about thirty miles upon the high lands, and visited a variety
of castles and palaces.

The Conte Nobili, a noble Lucchese, born in Flanders and educated at
Paris, was our conductor. He possesses great elegance of imagination,
and a degree of sensibility rarely met with. The way did not appear
tedious in such company. The sun was tempered by light clouds, and a
soft autumnal haze rested upon the hills, covered with shrubs and
olives. The distant plains and forests appeared tinted with so deep a
blue, that I began to think the azure so prevalent in Velvet Breughel’s
landscapes is hardly exaggerated.

After riding for six or seven miles along the cultivated levels, we
began to ascend a rough slope, overgrown with chestnuts; a great many
loose fragments and stumps of ancient pomegranates perplexed our route,
which continued, turning and winding through this wilderness, till it
opened on a sudden to the side of a lofty mountain, covered with tufted
groves, amongst which hangs the princely castle of the Garzoni, on the
very side of a precipice.

Alcina could not have chosen a more romantic situation. The garden lies
extended beneath, gay with flowers, and glittering with compartments of
spar, which, though in no great purity of taste, strikes for the first
time with the effect of enchantment. Two large marble basins, with
jets-d’eau, seventy feet in height, divide the parterres; from the
extremity of which rises a rude cliff, shaded with cedar and ilex, and
cut into terraces.

Leaving our horses at the great gate of this magic enclosure, we passed
through the spray of the fountains, and mounting an endless flight of
steps, entered an alley of oranges, and gathered ripe fruit from the
trees. Whilst we were thus employed, the sun broke from the clouds, and
lighted up the green of the vegetation; at the same time spangling the
waters, which pour copiously down a succession of rocky terraces, and
sprinkle the impending citron-trees with perpetual dew. These streams
issue from a chasm in the cliff, surrounded by cypresses, which conceal
by their thick branches a pavilion with baths. Above arises a colossal
statue of Fame, boldly carved, and in the very act of starting from the
precipices. A narrow path leads up to the feet of the goddess, on which
I reclined; whilst a vast column of water arching over my head, fell,
without even wetting me with its spray, into the depths below.

I could hardly prevail upon myself to abandon this cool recess; which
the fragrance of bay and orange, maintained by constant showers,
rendered uncommonly luxurious. At last I consented to move on, through a
dark wall of ilex, which, to the credit of Signor Garzoni be it spoken,
is suffered to grow as wild as it pleases. This grove is suspended on
the mountain side, whose summit is clothed with a boundless wood of
olives, and forms, by its willowy colour, a striking contrast with the
deep verdure of its base.

After resting a few moments in the shade, we proceeded to a long avenue,
bordered by aloes in bloom, forming majestic pyramids of flowers thirty
feet high. This led us to the palace, which was soon run over. Then,
mounting our horses, we wound amongst sunny vales, and inclosures with
myrtle hedges, till we came to a rapid steep. We felt the heat most
powerfully in ascending it, and were glad to take refuge under a
continued bower of vines, which runs for miles along its summit. These
arbours afforded us both shade and refreshment; I fell upon the
clusters which formed our ceiling, like a native of the north, unused to
such luxuriance: one of those Goths, Gray so poetically describes, who

    Scent the new fragrance of the breathing rose,
    And quaff the pendent vintage as it grows.

I wish you had journeyed with us under this fruitful canopy, and
observed the partial sunshine through its transparent leaves, and the
glimpses of the blue sky it every now and then admitted. I say only
every now and then, for in most places a sort of verdant gloom
prevailed, exquisitely agreeable in so hot a day.

But such luxury did not last, you may suppose, for ever. We were soon
forced from our covert, and obliged to traverse a mountain exposed to
the sun, which had dispersed every cloud, and shone with intolerable
brightness. On the other side of this extensive eminence lies a pastoral
hillock, surrounded by others, woody and irregular. Wide vineyards and
fields of Indian corn lay between, across which the Conte Nobili
conducted us to his house, where we found prepared a very comfortable
dinner. We drank the growth of the spot, and defied the richest wines of
Constantia to exceed it.

Afterwards, retiring into a wood of the Marchese Mansi, with neat pebble
walks and trickling rivulets, we took coffee and loitered till sunset.
It was then time to return, as the mists were beginning to rise from the
valleys. The calm and silence of evening threw us into our reveries. We
went pacing along heedlessly, just as our horses pleased, without
hearing any sound but their steps.

Between nine and ten we entered the gates of Lucca. Pacchierotti
coughed, and half its inhabitants wished us at the devil.



LETTER XIII.

     Set out for Pisa.--The Duomo.--Interior of the Cathedral.--The
     Campo Santo.--Solitude of the streets at midday.--Proceed to
     Leghorn.--Beauty of the road.--Tower of the Fanale.


Leghorn, October 2nd, 1780.

This morning we set out for Pisa. No sooner had we passed the highly
cultivated garden-grounds about Lucca than we found ourselves in narrow
roads, shut in by vines and grassy banks of canes and osiers, rising
high above our carriage and waving their leaves in the air. Through the
openings which sometimes intervened we discovered a variety of hillocks
clothed with shrubs, ruined towers looking out of the bushes, not one
without a romantic tale attending it.

This sort of scenery lasted till, passing the baths, we beheld Pisa
rising from an extensive plain, the most open we had as yet seen in
Italy, crossed by an aqueduct. We were set down immediately before the
Duomo, which stands insulated in a vast green area, and is perhaps the
most curious edifice my eyes ever viewed. Do not ask of what shape or
architecture; it is almost impossible to tell, so great is the confusion
of ornaments. The dome gives the mass an oriental appearance, which
helped to bewilder me; in short, I have dreamed of such buildings, but
little thought they existed. On one side you survey the famous tower, as
perfectly awry as I expected; on the other the baptistery, a circular
edifice distinct from the church and right opposite its principal
entrance, crowded with sculptures and topped by the strangest of
cupolas.

Having indulged our curiosity with this singular prospect for some
moments, we entered the cathedral and admired the stately columns of
porphyry and of the rarest marbles, supporting a roof which, like the
rest of the building, shines with gold. A pavement of the brightest
mosaic completes its magnificence: all around are sculptures by Michael
Angelo Buonarotti, and paintings by the most distinguished artists. We
examined them with due attention, and then walked down the nave and
remarked the striking effect of the baptistery, seen in perspective
through the bronze portals, which you know, I suppose, are covered with
relievos of the finest workmanship. These noble valves were thrown wide
open, and we passed between them to the baptistery, where stands an
alabaster font, constructed after the primitive ritual and exquisitely
wrought.

Our next object was the Campo Santo, which forms one side of the area in
which the cathedral is situated. The walls, and Gothic tabernacle above
the entrance, rising from the level turf and preserving a neat straw
colour, appear as fresh as if built within the present century. Our
guide unlocking the gates, we entered a spacious cloister, forming an
oblong quadrangle, which encloses the sacred earth of Jerusalem,
conveyed hither about the period of the crusades, the days of Pisanese
prosperity. The holy mould produces a rampant crop of weeds, but none
are permitted to spring from the pavement, which is entirely composed of
tombs with slabs, smoothly laid and covered with monumental
inscriptions. Ranges of slender pillars, formed of the whitest marble
and glistening in the sun, support the arcade of the cloister, which is
carved with innumerable stars and roses, partly Gothic and partly
Saracenial. Strange paintings of hell and the devil, mostly taken from
Dante’s rhapsodies, cover the walls of these fantastic galleries,
attributed to the venerable Giotto and Bufalmacco, whom Boccaccio
mentions in his Decamerone.

Beneath, along the base of the columns, are placed, to my no small
surprise, rows of pagan sarcophagi; I could not have supposed the
Pisanese sufficiently tolerant to admit profane sculptures within such
consecrated precincts. However, there they are, as well as fifty other
contradictory ornaments.

I was quite seized by the strangeness of the place, and paced fifty
times round and round the cloisters, discovering at every time some odd
novelty. When tired, I seated myself on a fair slab of _giallo antico_,
that looked a little cleaner than its neighbours (which I only mention
to identify the precise point of view), and looking through the
filigreed tracery of the arches observed the domes of the cathedral,
cupola of the baptistery, and roof of the leaning tower rising above the
leads, and forming the strangest assemblage of pinnacles perhaps in
Europe. The place is neither sad nor solemn; the arches are airy, the
pillars light, and there is so much caprice, such an exotic look in the
whole scene, that without any violent effort of fancy one might imagine
one’s self in fairy land. Every object is new, every ornament original;
the mixture of antique sarcophagi with Gothic sepulchres, completes the
vagaries of the prospect, to which, one day or other, I think of
returning, to hear visionary music and commune with sprites, for I shall
never find in the whole universe besides so whimsical a theatre.

The heat was so powerful that all the inhabitants of Pisa showed their
wisdom by keeping within doors. Not an animal appeared in the streets,
except five camels laden with water, stalking along a range of garden
walls and pompous mansions, with an awning before every door. We were
obliged to follow their steps, at least a quarter of a mile, before we
reached our inn. Ice was the first thing I sought after, and when I had
swallowed an unreasonable portion, I began not to think quite so much of
the deserts of Africa, as the heat and the camels had induced me to do a
moment ago.

Early in the afternoon, we proceeded to Leghorn through a wild tract of
forest, somewhat in the style of our English parks. The trees in some
places formed such shady arbours, that we could not resist the desire of
walking beneath them, and were well rewarded; for after struggling
through a rough thicket, we entered a lawn hemmed in by oaks and
chesnuts, which extends several leagues along the coast and conceals the
prospect of the ocean; but we heard its murmurs.

Nothing could be smoother or more verdant than the herbage, which was
sprinkled with daisies and purple crocuses as in the month of May. I
felt all the genial sensations of Spring steal into my bosom, and was
greatly delighted upon discovering vast bushes of myrtle in the fullest
and most luxuriant bloom. The softness of the air, the sound of the
distant surges, the evening gleams, and repose of the landscape, quieted
the tumult of my spirits, and I experienced the calm of my infant hours.
I lay down in the open turf-walks between the shrubberies, and during a
few moments had forgotten every care; but when I began to enquire into
my happiness, I found it vanish. I felt myself without those I love
most, in situations they would have warmly admired, and without them
these pleasant lawns and woodlands looked pleasant in vain.

We had not left this woody region far behind, when the Fanale began to
lift itself above the horizon--the very tower you have so often
mentioned; the sky and ocean glowing with amber light, and the ships out
at sea appearing in a golden haze, of which we have no conception in our
northern climates. Such a prospect, together with the fresh gales from
the Mediterranean, charmed me; I hurried immediately to the port and sat
on a reef of rocks, listening to the waves that broke amongst them.



LETTER XIV.

     The Mole at Leghorn.--Coast scattered over with
     Watch-towers.--Branches of rare Coral unexpectedly acquired.


October 3rd, 1780.

I went, as you would have done, to walk on the mole as soon as the sun
began to shine upon it. Its construction you are no stranger to;
therefore I think I may spare myself the trouble of saying anything
about it, except that the port which it embraces is no longer crowded.
Instead of ten ranks of vessels there are only three, and those consist
chiefly of Corsican galleys, that look as poor and tattered as their
masters. Not much attention did I bestow upon such objects, but, taking
my seat at the extremity of the quay, surveyed the smooth plains of
ocean, the coast scattered over with watchtowers, and the rocky isle of
Gorgona, emerging from the morning mists, which still lingered upon the
horizon.

Whilst I was musing upon the scene, and calling up all that train of
ideas before my imagination, which pleased your own upon beholding it,
an ancient figure, with a beard that would have suited a sea-god,
stepped out of a boat, and tottering up the steps of the quay, presented
himself before me with a basket in his hand. He stayed dripping a few
moments before he pronounced a syllable, and when he began his
discourse, I was in doubt whether I should not have moved off in a
hurry, there was something so wan and singular in his countenance.
Except this being, no other was visible for a quarter of a mile at
least. I knew not what strange adventure I might be upon the point of
commencing, or what message I was to expect from the submarine
divinities. However, after all my conjectures, the figure turned out to
be no other than an old fisherman, who having picked up a few branches
of the rarest species of coral, offered them to sale. I eagerly made the
purchase, and thought myself a favourite of Neptune, since he allowed me
to acquire, with such facility, some of his most beautiful ornaments.

My bargain thus expeditiously concluded, I ran along the quay with my
basket of coral, and, taking boat, was rowed back to the gate of the
port. The carriage waited there; I shut myself up in the grateful shade
of green blinds, and was driven away at a rate that favoured my
impatience. We bowled smoothly over the lawns described in my last
letter, amongst myrtles in flower, that would have done honour to the
island of Juan Fernandez.

Arrived at Pisa, I scarcely allowed myself a moment to revisit the Campo
Santo, but hurried on to Lucca, and threw the whole idle town into a
stare by my speedy return.



LETTER XV.

     Florence again.--Palazzo Vecchio.--View on the Arno.--Sculptures by
     Cellini and John of Bologna.--Contempt shown by the Austrians to
     the memory of the House of Medici.--Evening visit to the Garden of
     Boboli.--The Opera.--Miserable singing.--A Neapolitan Duchess.


Florence, October 5th, 1780.

It was not without regret that I forced myself from Lucca. We had all
the same road to go over again, that brought us to this important
republic, but we broke down by way of variety. The wind was chill, the
atmosphere damp and clogged with unwholesome vapours, through which we
were forced to walk for a league, whilst our chaise lagged after us.

Taking shelter in a miserable cottage, we remained shivering and shaking
till the carriage was in some sort of order, and then proceeded so
slowly that we did not arrive at Florence till late in the evening, and
took possession of an apartment over the Arno, which being swollen with
rains roared like a mountain torrent. Throwing open my windows, I viewed
its agitated course by the light of the moon, half concealed in stormy
clouds, which hung above the fortress of the Belvedere. I sat
contemplating the effect of the shadows on the bridge, on the heights of
Boboli, and the mountain covered with pale olive groves, amongst which a
convent is situated, till the moon sank into the darkest quarter of the
sky, and a bell began to toll. Its mournful sound filled me with gloomy
recollections. I closed the casements, and read till midnight some
dismal memoir of conspiracies and assassinations, Guelphs and
Ghibelines, the black story of ancient Florence.


October 6th.

Every cloud was dispersed when I arose, and the purity and transparence
of the æther added new charms to the picturesque eminences around. I
felt quite revived by this exhilarating prospect, and walked in the
splendour of sunshine to the porticos beneath the famous gallery, then
to an antient castle, raised in the days of the Republic, which fronts
the grand piazza. Colossal statues and trophies badly carved in the
true spirit of the antique, are placed before it. On one side a
fountain, clung round with antick figures of bronze, by John of Bologna.
On the other, three lofty pointed arches, and under one of them the
Perseus of Benvenuto Cellini.

Having examined some groups of sculptures by Baccio Bandinelli and other
mighty artists, I entered the court of the castle, dark and deep, as if
hewn out of a rock, surrounded by a vaulted arcade covered with
arabesque ornaments and supported by pillars almost as uncouthly
designed as those of Persepolis. In the midst appears a marble fount
with an image of bronze, that looks quite strange and cabalistic. I
leaned against it to look up to the summits of the walls, which rise to
a vast height, from whence springs a slender tower. Above, in the
apartments of the castle, are still preserved numbers of curious
cabinets, tables of inlaid gems, and a thousand rarities, collected by
the house of Medici, and not yet entirely frittered away and disposed of
by public sale.

It was not without indignation that I learnt this new mark of contempt
which the Austrians bestow on the memory of those illustrious patrons of
the Arts; whom, being unwilling to imitate, they affect to despise as a
race of merchants whose example it would be abasing their dignity to
follow.

I could have stayed much longer to enjoy the novelty and strangeness of
the place; but it was right to pay some compliments of form. That duty
over, I dined in peace and solitude, and repaired, as evening drew on,
to the thickets of Boboli.

What a serene sky! what mellowness in the tints of the mountains! A
purple haze concealed the bases, whilst their summits were invested with
saffron light, discovering every white cot and every copse that clothed
their declivities. The prospect widened as I ascended the terraces of
the garden.

After traversing many long dusky alleys, I reached the opening on the
brow of the hill, and seating myself under the statue of Ceres, took a
sketch of the huge mountainous cupola of the Duomo, the adjoining lovely
tower and one more massive in its neighbourhood, built not improbably in
the style of ancient Etruria. Beyond this historic group of buildings a
plain stretches itself far and wide, most richly studded with villas
and gardens, and groves of pine and olive, quite to the feet of the
mountains.

Having marked the sun’s going down and all the soothing effects cast by
his declining rays on every object, I went through a plat of vines to a
favourite haunt of mine:--a little garden of the most fragrant roses,
with a spring under a rustic arch of grotto-work fringed with ivy.
Thousands of fish inhabit here, of that beautiful glittering species
which comes from China. This golden nation were leaping after insects as
I stood gazing upon the deep clear water, listening to the drops that
trickle from the cove. Opposite to which, at the end of a green alley,
you discover an oval basin, and in the midst of it an antique statue
full of that graceful languor so peculiarly Grecian.

Whilst I was musing on the margin of the spring (for I returned to it
after casting a look upon the sculpture), the moon rose above the tufted
foliage of the terraces, which I descended by several flights of steps,
with marble balustrades crowned by vases of aloes.

It was now seven o’clock, and all the world were going to my Lord T----’s, who lives in a fine house all over blue and silver, with stuffed
birds, alabaster cupids, and a thousand prettinesses more; but to say
truth, neither he nor his abode are worth mentioning. I found a deal of
slopping and sipping of tea going forward, and many dawdlers assembled.

As I can say little good of the party, I had better shut the door, and
conduct you to the Opera, which is really a striking spectacle. The
first soprano put my patience to severe proof, during the few minutes I
attended. You never beheld such a porpoise. If these animals were to
sing, I should conjecture it would be in his style. You may suppose how
often I invoked Pacchierotti, and regretted the lofty melody of Quinto
Fabio. Everybody seemed as well contented as if there were no such thing
as good singing in the world, except a Neapolitan duchess who delighted
me by her vivacity. We took our fill of maledictions, and went home
equally pleased with each other for having mutually execrated both
singers and audience.



LETTER XVI.

     Detained at Florence by reports of the Malaria at Rome.--Ascend one
     of the hills celebrated by Dante.--View from its brow.--Chapel
     designed by Michael Angelo.--Birth of a Princess.--The
     christening.--Another evening visit in the woods of Boboli.


October 22nd, 1780.

They say the air is worse this year at Rome than ever, and that it would
be madness to go thither during its malign influence. This was very bad
news indeed to one heartily tired of Florence, at least of its society.
Merciful powers! what a set harbour within its walls! * * * You may
imagine I do not take vehement delight in this company, though very
ingenious, praiseworthy, &c. The woods of the Cascini shelter me every
morning; and there grows an old crooked ilex at their entrance, twisting
round a pine, upon whose branches I sit for hours.

In the afternoon I am irresistibly attracted to the thickets of Boboli.
The other evening, however, I varied my walks, and ascended one of those
pleasant hills celebrated by Dante, which rise in the vicinity of the
city, and command a variegated scene of towers, villas, cottages, and
gardens. On the right, as you stand upon the brow, appears Fiesole with
its turrets and white houses, covering a rocky mount to the left, the
Val d’Arno lost in the haze of the horizon. A Franciscan convent stands
on the summit of the eminence, wrapped up in antient cypresses, which
hinder its holy inhabitants from seeing too much of so gay a view. The
paved ascent leading up to their abode receives also a shade from the
cypresses which border it. Beneath this venerable avenue, crosses with
inscriptions are placed at certain distances, to mark the various
moments of Christ’s passion; as when fainting under his burden he halted
to repose himself, or when he met his afflicted mother.

Above, at the end of the perspective, rises a chapel designed by M. A.
Buonarotti; further on, an antient church, encrusted with white marble,
porphyry, and verd antique. The interior presents a crowded assemblage
of ornaments, elaborate mosaic pavements and inlaid work without end.
The high altar is placed in a semicircular recess, which, like the apsis
of the church at Torcello, glitters with barbaric paintings on a gold
ground, and receives a fervid glow of light from five windows, filled up
with transparent marble clouded like tortoiseshell. A smooth polished
staircase leads to this mysterious place: another brought me to a
subterraneous chapel, supported by confused groups of variegated
pillars, just visible by the glimmer of lamps.

Passing on not unawed, I followed some flights of steps, which terminate
in the neat cloisters of the convent, in perfect preservation, but
totally deserted. Ranges of citron and aloes fill up the quadrangle,
whose walls are hung with superstitious pictures most singularly
fancied. The Jesuits were the last tenants of this retirement, and seem
to have had great reason for their choice. Its peace and stillness
delighted me.

Next day I was engaged by a very opposite scene, though much against my
will. Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess having produced a princess in
the night, everybody put on grand gala in the morning, and I was
carried, along with the glittering tide of courtiers, ministers, and
ladies, to see the christening. After the Grand Duke had talked
politics for some time, the doors of a temporary chapel were thrown
open. Trumpets flourished, processions marched, and the archbishop began
the ceremony at an altar of massive gold, placed under a yellow silk
pavilion, with pyramids of lights before it. Wax tapers, though it was
noon-day, shone in every corner of the apartments. Two rows of pages,
gorgeously accoutred, and holding enormous torches, stood on each side
his Royal Highness, and made him the prettiest courtesies imaginable, to
the sound of an indifferent band of music, though led by Nardini. The
poor old archbishop, who looked very piteous and saint-like, led the Te
Deum with a quavering voice, and the rest followed him with thoughtless
expedition.

The ceremony being despatched, (for his Royal Highness was in a mighty
fidget to shrink back into his beloved obscurity,) the crowd dispersed,
and I went, with a few others, to dine at my Lord T----’s.

Evening drawing on, I ran to throw myself once more into the woods of
Boboli, and remained till it was night in their recesses. Really this
garden is enough to bewilder an enthusiastic spirit; there is something
so solemn in its shades, its avenues, and spires of cypresses. When I
had mused for many an interesting hour amongst them, I emerged into the
orangery before the palace, which overlooks the largest district of the
town, and beheld, as I slowly descended the road which leads up to it,
certain bright lights glancing about the cupola of the Duomo and the
points of the highest towers. At first I thought them meteors, or those
illusive fires which often dance before the eye of my imagination; but
soon I was convinced of their reality; for in a few minutes the lantern
of the cathedral was lighted up by agents really invisible; whilst a
stream of torches ran along the battlements of the old castle which I
mentioned in a former letter.

I enjoyed this prospect at a distance: when near, my pleasure was
greatly diminished, for half the fish in the town were frying to rejoice
the hearts of his Royal Highness’s loyal subjects, and bonfires blazing
in every street and alley. Hubbubs and stinks of every denomination
drove me quickly to the theatre; but that was all glitter and glare. No
taste, no arrangement, paltry looking-glasses, and rat’s-tail candles.



LETTER XVII.

     Pilgrimage to Valombrosa.--Rocky Steeps.--Groves of Pine.--Vast
     Amphitheatre of Lawns and Meadows.--Reception at the Convent.--Wild
     Glens where the Hermit Gualbertus had his Cell.--Conversation with
     the holy Fathers.--Legendary Tales.--The consecrated Cleft.--The
     Romitorio.--Extensive View of the Val d’Arno.--Return to Florence.


October 23rd, 1780.

Do you recollect our evening rambles last year, in the valley at F----,
under the hill of pines? I remember we often fancied the scene like
Valombrosa; and vowed, if ever an occasion offered, to visit its deep
retirements. I had put off the execution of this pilgrimage from day to
day till the warm weather was gone; and the Florentines declared I
should be frozen if I attempted it. Everybody stared last night at the
Opera when I told them I was going to bury myself in fallen leaves, and
hear no music but their rustlings.

Mr. ---- was just as eager as myself to escape the chit-chat and
nothingness of Florence; so we finally determined upon our expedition,
and mounting our horses, set out this morning, happily without any
company but the spirit which led us along. We had need of inspiration,
since nothing else, I think, would have tempted us over such dreary,
uninteresting hillocks as rise from the banks of the Arno. The hoary
olive is their principal vegetation; so that Nature, in this part of the
country, seems in a withering decrepit state, and may not unaptly be
compared to “an old woman clothed in grey.” However, we did not suffer
the prospect to damp our enthusiasm, which was the better preserved for
Valombrosa.

About half way, our palfreys thought proper to look out for some oats,
and I to creep into a sort of granary in the midst of a barren waste,
scattered over with white rocks, that reflected more heat than I cared
for, although I had been told snow and ice were to be my portion.
Seating myself on the floor between heaps of corn, I reached down a few
purple clusters of Muscadine grapes, which hung to dry in the ceiling,
and amused myself very pleasantly with them till the horses had
finished their meal and it was lawful to set forwards. We met with
nothing but rocky steeps shattered into fragments, and such roads as
half inclined us to repent our undertaking; but cold was not yet amongst
the number of our evils.

At last, after ascending a tedious while, we began to feel the wind blow
sharply from the peaks of the mountains, and to hear the murmur of
groves of pine. A paved path leads across them, quite darkened by
boughs, which meeting over our heads cast a gloom and a chilness below
that would have stopped the proceedings of reasonable mortals, and sent
them to bask in the plain; but, being not so easily discomfited, we
threw ourselves boldly into the forest. It presented that boundless
confusion of tall straight stems I am so fond of, and exhaled a fresh
aromatic odour that revived my spirits.

The cold to be sure was piercing; but setting that at defiance, we
galloped on, and entered a vast amphitheatre of lawns and meadows
surrounded by thick woods beautifully green. The steep cliffs and
mountains which guard this retired valley are clothed with beech to
their very summits; and on their slopes, whose smoothness and verdure
equal our English pastures, were dispersed large flocks of sheep. The
herbage, moistened by streams which fall from the eminences, has never
been known to fade; thus, whilst the chief part of Tuscany is parched by
the heats of summer, these upland meadows retain the freshness of
spring. I regretted not having visited them sooner, as autumn had
already made great havock amongst the foliage. Showers of leaves blew
full in our faces as we rode towards the convent, placed at an extremity
of the vale and sheltered by firs and chesnuts towering one above
another.

Whilst we were alighting before the entrance, two fathers came out and
received us into the peace of their retirement. We found a blazing fire,
and tables spread very comfortably before it, round which five or six
overgrown friars were lounging, who seemed by the sleekness and rosy hue
of their countenances not totally to have despised this mortal
existence.

My letters of recommendation soon brought the heads of the order about
me, fair round figures, such as a Chinese would have placed in his
pagoda. I could willingly have dispensed with their attention; yet to
avoid this was scarcely within the circle of possibility. All dinner,
therefore, we endured an infinity of nonsensical questions; but as soon
as that was over, I lost no time in repairing to the lawns and forests.
The fathers made a shift to waddle after, as fast and as complaisantly
as they were able, but were soon distanced.

Now I found myself at liberty, and pursued a narrow path overhung by
rock, with bushy chesnuts starting from the crevices. This led me into
wild glens of beech trees, mostly decayed and covered with moss: several
were fallen. It was amongst these the holy hermit Gualbertus had his
cell. I rested a moment upon one of their huge branches, listening to
the roar of a waterfall which the wood concealed. The dry leaves chased
each other down the steeps on the edge of the torrents with hollow
rustlings, whilst the solemn wave of the forests above most perfectly
answered the idea I had formed of Valombrosa,

  ----where the Etrurian shades
    High overarch’d embower.

The scene was beginning to take effect, and the genius of Milton to move
across his favourite valley, when the fathers arrived puffing and
blowing, by an easier ascent than I knew of.

“You have missed the way,” cried the youngest; “the hermitage, with the
fine picture by Andrèa del Sarto, which all the English admire, is on
the opposite side of the wood: there! don’t you see it on the point of
the cliff?”

“Yes, yes,” said I a little peevishly; “I wonder the devil has not
pushed it down long ago; it seems to invite his kick.”

“Satan,” answered the old Pagod very dryly, “is full of malice; but
whoever drinks of a spring which the Lord causeth to flow near the
hermitage is freed from his illusions.”

“Are they so?” replied I with a sanctified accent, “then I pray thee
conduct me thither, for I have great need of such salutary waters.”

The youngest father shook his head, as much as to say, “This is nothing
more than a heretic’s whim.”

The senior set forwards with greater piety, and began some legendary
tales of the kind which my soul loveth. He pointed to a chasm in the
cliff, round which we were winding by a spiral path, where Gualbertus
used to sleep, and, turning himself towards the west, see a long
succession of saints and martyrs sweeping athwart the sky, and gilding
the clouds with far brighter splendours than the setting sun. Here he
rested till his last hour, when the bells of the convent beneath (which
till that moment would have made dogs howl had there been any within its
precincts) struck out such harmonious jingling that all the country
around was ravished, and began lifting up their eyes with singular
devotion, when, behold! light dawned, cherubim appeared, and birds
chirped although it was midnight. “Alas! alas! what would I not give to
witness such a spectacle, and read my prayer-book by the effulgence of
opening heaven!”

However, willing to see something at least, I crept into the consecrated
cleft and extended myself on its rugged surface. A very penitential
couch! but commanding glorious prospects of the world below, which lay
this evening in deep blue shade; the sun looking red and angry through
misty vapours, which prevented our discovering the Tuscan sea.

Finding the rock as damp as might be expected, I soon shifted my
quarters, and followed the youngest father up to the Romitorio, a snug
little hermitage, with a neat chapel, and altar-piece by Andrèa del
Sarto, which I should have examined more minutely had not the wild and
mountainous forest scenery possessed my whole attention. I just stayed
to taste the holy fountain; and then, escaping from my conductors, ran
eagerly down the path, leaping over the springs that crossed it, and
entered a lawn of the smoothest turf grazed by sheep. Beyond this
opening rises a second, hemmed in with thickets; and still higher, a
third, whence a forest of young pines spires up into a lofty theatre
terminated by peaks, half concealed by a thick mantle of beech tinged
with ruddy brown. Pausing in the midst of the lawns, and looking upward
to the sweeps of wood which surrounded me, I addressed my orisons to the
genius of the place, and prayed that I might once more return into its
bosom, and be permitted to bring you along with me, for surely such
meads, such groves, were formed for our enjoyment!

This little rite performed, I walked on quite to the extremity of the
pastures, traversed a thicket, and found myself on the edge of
precipices, beneath whose base the whole Val d’Arno lies expanded. I
listened to distant murmurings in the plain, saw wreaths of smoke rising
from the cottages, and viewed a vast tract of grey barren country, which
evening rendered still more desolate, bounded by the black mountain of
Radicofani. Then, turning round, I beheld the whole extent of rock and
forest, the groves of beech, and wilds above the convent, glowing with
fiery red, for the sun, making a last effort to pierce the vapours,
produced this effect; which was the more striking, as the sky was
gloomy, and the rest of the prospect of a melancholy blue.

Returning slowly homeward, I marked the warm glow deserting the
eminences, and heard the sullen toll of a bell. The young boys of the
seminary were moving in a body to their dark enclosure, all dressed in
black. Many of them looked pale and wan. I wished to ask them whether
the solitude of Valombrosa suited their age and vivacity; but a tall
spectre of a priest drove them along like a herd, and presently, the
gates opening, I saw them no more.

The night was growing chill, the winds boisterous, and in the intervals
of the gusts I had the addition of a lamentable screech owl to depress
my spirits. Upon the whole, I was not at all concerned to meet the
fathers, who came out to show me to my room, and entertain me with
various gossipings, both sacred and profane, till supper appeared.

Next morning, the Padre Decano gave us chocolate in his apartment; and
afterwards led us round the convent, insisting most unmercifully upon
our viewing every cell and every dormitory. However, I was determined to
make a full stop at the organ, one of the most harmonious I ever played
upon; but placed in a deep recess, feebly lighted by lamps, not
calculated to inspire triumphant voluntaries. The monks, who had all
crowded into the loft in expectation of brisk jigs and lively overtures,
soon retired upon hearing a strain ten times more sorrowful than that to
which they were accustomed. I did not lament their departure, but played
on till our horses came to the gate. We mounted, wound back through the
grove of pines which protect Valombrosa from intrusion, descended the
steeps, and, gaining the plains, galloped in a few hours to Florence.



LETTER XVIII.

     Cathedral at Sienna.--A vaulted Chamber.--Leave Sienna.--Mountains
     round Radicofani.--Hunting Palace of the Grand Dukes.--A grim
     fraternity of Cats.--Dreary Apartment.


Sienna, October 27th, 1780.

Here my duty of course was to see the cathedral, and I got up much
earlier than I wished, in order to perform it. I wonder that our holy
ancestors did not choose a mountain at once, scrape it into tabernacles,
and chisel it into scripture stories. It would have cost them almost as
little trouble as the building in question, which, by many of the
Italian devotees to a purer style of architecture, is esteemed a
masterpiece of ridiculous taste and elaborate absurdity. The front,
encrusted with alabaster, is worked into a million of fretted arches and
puzzling ornaments. There are statues without number, and relievos
without end or meaning.

The church within is all of black and white marble alternately; the roof
blue and gold, with a profusion of silken banners hanging from it; and
a cornice running above the principal arcade, composed entirely of
bustos representing the whole series of sovereign pontiffs, from the
first Bishop of Rome to Adrian the Fourth. Pope Joan they say figured
amongst them, between Leo the Fourth and Benedict the Third, till the
year 1600, when some authors have asserted she was turned out, at the
instance of Clement the Eighth, to make room for Zacharias the First.

I hardly knew which was the nave, or which the cross aisle, of this
singular edifice, so perfect is the confusion of its parts. The pavement
demands attention, being inlaid so curiously as to represent variety of
histories taken from Holy Writ, and designed somewhat in the style of
that hobgoblin tapestry which used to bestare the walls of our
ancestors. Near the high altar stands the strangest of pulpits,
supported by polished pillars of granite, rising from lions’ backs,
which serve as pedestals. In every corner of the place some glittering
chapel or other offends or astonishes you. That, however, of the Chigi
family, it must be allowed, has infinite merit with respect to design
and execution; but it wants effect, as seeming out of place in this
chaos of caprice and finery.

From the church I entered a vaulted chamber, erected by the
Piccoliminis, filled with missals most exquisitely illuminated. The
paintings in fresco on the walls are rather barbarous, though executed
after the designs of the mighty Raphael; but then we must remember, he
had but just escaped from Pietro Perugino.

Not staying long in the Duomo, we left Sienna in good time; and, after
being shaken and tumbled in the worst roads that ever pretended to be
made use of, found ourselves beneath the rough mountains round
Radicofani, about seven o’clock on a cold and dismal evening. Up we
toiled a steep craggy ascent, and reached at length the inn upon its
summit. My heart sank when I entered a vast range of apartments, with
high black raftered roofs, once intended for a hunting palace of the
Grand Dukes, but now desolate and forlorn. The wind having risen, every
door began to shake, and every board substituted for a window to
clatter, as if the severe power who dwells on the topmost peak of
Radicofani, according to its village mythologists, was about to visit
his abode.

My only spell to keep him at a distance was kindling an enormous fire,
whose charitable gleams cheered my spirits, and gave them a quicker
flow. Yet, for some minutes, I never ceased looking, now to the right,
now to the left, up at the dark beams, and down the long passages, where
the pavement, broken up in several places, and earth newly strewn about,
seemed to indicate that something horrid was concealed below.

A grim fraternity of cats kept whisking backwards and forwards in these
dreary avenues, which I am apt to imagine is the very identical scene of
a sabbath of witches at certain periods. Not venturing to explore them,
I fastened my door, pitched my bed opposite the hearth which glowed with
embers, and crept under the coverlids, hardly venturing to go to sleep
lest I should be suddenly roused from it by I know not what terrible
initiation into the mysteries of the place.

Scarce was I settled, before two or three of the brotherhood just
mentioned stalked in at a little opening under the door. I insisted upon
their moving off faster than they had entered, and was surprised, when
midnight came, to hear nothing more than their doleful mewings echoed by
the hollow walls and arches.



LETTER XIX.

     Leave the gloomy precincts of Radicofani and enter the Papal
     territory.--Country near Aquapendente.--Shores of the Lake of
     Bolsena.--Forest of Oaks.--Ascend Monte Fiascone.--Inhabited
     Caverns.--Viterbo.--Anticipations of Rome.


Radicofani, October 28th, 1780.

I begin to despair of magical adventures, since none happened at
Radicofani, which Nature seems wholly to have abandoned. Not a tree, not
an acre of soil, has she bestowed upon its inhabitants, who would have
more excuse for practising the gloomy art than the rest of mankind. I
was very glad to leave their black hills and stony wilderness behind,
and, entering the Papal territory, to see some shrubs and cornfields at
a distance.

Near Aquapendente, which is situated on a ledge of cliffs mantled with
chesnut copses and tufted ilex, the country grew varied and picturesque.
St. Lorenzo, the next post, built upon a hill, overlooks the lake of
Bolsena, whose woody shores conceal many ruined buildings. We passed
some of them in a retired vale, with arches from rock to rock, and
grottos beneath half lost in thickets, from which rise craggy pinnacles
crowned by mouldering towers; just such scenery as Polemberg and
Bamboche introduce in their paintings.

Beyond these truly Italian prospects, which a mellow evening tint
rendered still more interesting, a forest of oaks presents itself upon
the brows of hills, which extends almost the whole way to Monte
Fiascone. It was late before we ascended it. The whole country seems
full of inhabited caverns, that began as night drew on to shine with
fires. We saw many dark shapes glancing before them, and perhaps a
subterraneous people like the Cimmerians lurk in their recesses. As we
drew near Viterbo, the lights in the fields grew less and less frequent;
and when we entered the town, all was total darkness.

To-morrow I hope to pay my vows before the high altar of St. Peter, and
tread the Vatican. Why are you not here to usher me into the imperial
city: to watch my first glance of the Coliseo: and lead me up the stairs
of the Capitol? I shall rise before the sun, that I may see him set from
Monte Cavallo.



LETTER XX.

     Set out in the dark.--The Lago di Vico.--View of the spacious
     plains where the Romans reared their seat of empire.--Ancient
     splendour.--Present silence and desolation.--Shepherds’
     huts.--Wretched policy of the Papal Government.--Distant view of
     Rome.--Sensations on entering the City.--The Pope returning from
     Vespers.--St Peter’s Colonnade.--Interior of the
     Church.--Reveries.--A visionary scheme.--The Pantheon.


Rome, October 29th, 1780.

We set out in the dark. Morning dawned over the Lago di Vico; its waters
of a deep ultramarine blue, and its surrounding forests catching the
rays of the rising sun. It was in vain I looked for the cupola of St.
Peter’s upon descending the mountains beyond Viterbo. Nothing but a sea
of vapours was visible.

At length they rolled away, and the spacious plains began to show
themselves, in which the most warlike of nations reared their seat of
empire. On the left, afar off, rises the rugged chain of Apennines, and
on the other side, a shining expanse of ocean terminates the view. It
was upon this vast surface so many illustrious actions were performed,
and I know not where a mighty people could have chosen a grander
theatre. Here was space for the march of armies, and verge enough for
encampments: levels for martial games, and room for that variety of
roads and causeways that led from the capital to Ostia. How many
triumphant legions have trodden these pavements! how many captive kings!
What throngs of cars and chariots once glittered on their surface!
savage animals dragged from the interior of Africa; and the ambassadors
of Indian princes, followed by their exotic train, hastening to implore
the favour of the senate!

During many ages, this eminence commanded almost every day such
illustrious scenes; but all are vanished: the splendid tumult is passed
away: silence and desolation remain. Dreary flats thinly scattered over
with ilex, and barren hillocks crowned by solitary towers, were the only
objects we perceived for several miles. Now and then we passed a few
black ill-favoured sheep straggling by the way’s side, near a ruined
sepulchre, just such animals as an ancient would have sacrificed to the
Manes. Sometimes we crossed a brook, whose ripplings were the only
sounds which broke the general stillness, and observed the shepherds’
huts on its banks, propped up with broken pedestals and marble friezes.
I entered one of them, whose owner was abroad tending his herds, and
began writing upon the sand and murmuring a melancholy song. Perhaps the
dead listened to me from their narrow cells. The living I can answer
for: they were far enough removed.

You will not be surprised at the dark tone of my musings in so sad a
scene, especially as the weather lowered; and you are well acquainted
how greatly I depend upon skies and sunshine. To-day I had no blue
firmament to revive my spirits; no genial gales, no aromatic plants to
irritate my nerves and lend at least a momentary animation. Heath and a
greyish kind of moss are the sole vegetation which covers this endless
wilderness. Every slope is strewed with the relics of a happier period;
trunks of trees, shattered columns, cedar beams, helmets of bronze,
skulls and coins, are frequently dug up together.

I cannot boast of having made any discoveries, nor of sending you any
novel intelligence. You knew before how perfectly the environs of Rome
were desolate, and how completely the Papal government contrives to make
its subjects miserable. But who knows that they were not just as
wretched in those boasted times we are so fond of celebrating? All is
doubt and conjecture in this frail existence; and I might as well
attempt proving to whom belonged the mouldering bones which lay
dispersed around me, as venture to affirm that one age is more fortunate
than another. Very likely the poor cottager, under whose roof I reposed,
is happier than the luxurious Roman upon the remains of whose palace,
perhaps, his shed is raised: and yet that Roman flourished in the purple
days of the empire, when all was wealth and splendour, triumph and
exultation.

I could have spent the whole day by the rivulet, lost in dreams and
meditations; but recollecting my vow, I ran back to the carriage and
drove on. The road not having been mended, I believe, since the days of
the Cæsars, would not allow our motions to be very precipitate. “When
you gain the summit of yonder hill, you will discover Rome,” said one of
the postilions: up we dragged; no city appeared. “From the next,” cried
out a second; and so on from height to height did they amuse my
expectations. I thought Rome fled before us, such was my impatience,
till at last we perceived a cluster of hills with green pastures on
their summits, inclosed by thickets and shaded by flourishing ilex. Here
and there a white house, built in the antique style, with open porticos,
that received a faint gleam of the evening sun, just emerged from the
clouds and tinting the meads below. Now domes and towers began to
discover themselves in the valley, and St. Peter’s to rise above the
magnificent roofs of the Vatican. Every step we advanced the scene
extended, till, winding suddenly round the hill, all Rome opened to our
view.

Shall I ever forget the sensations I experienced upon slowly descending
the hills, and crossing the bridge over the Tiber; when I entered an
avenue between terraces and ornamented gates of villas, which leads to
the Porto del Popolo, and beheld the square, the domes, the obelisk, the
long perspective of streets and palaces opening beyond, all glowing with
the vivid red of sunset? You can imagine how I enjoyed my beloved tint,
my favourite hour, surrounded by such objects. You can fancy me
ascending Monte Cavallo, leaning against the pedestal which supports
Bucephalus; then, spite of time and distance, hurrying to St. Peter’s in
performance of my vow.

I met the Holy Father in all his pomp returning from vespers. Trumpets
flourishing, and a troop of guards drawn out upon Ponte St. Angelo.
Casting a respectful glance upon the Moles Adriani, I moved on till the
full sweep of St. Peter’s colonnade opened upon me. The edifice appears
to have been raised within the year, such is its freshness and
preservation. I could hardly take my eyes from off the beautiful
symmetry of its front, contrasted with the magnificent, though irregular
courts of the Vatican towering over the colonnade, till, the sun sinking
behind the dome, I ran up the steps and entered the grand portal, which
was on the very point of being closed.

I knew not where I was, or to what scene transported. A sacred twilight
concealing the extremities of the structure, I could not distinguish any
particular ornament, but enjoyed the effect of the whole. No damp air or
fœtid exhalation offended me. The perfume of incense was not yet
entirely dissipated. No human being stirred. I heard a door close with
the sound of thunder, and thought I distinguished some faint
whisperings, but am ignorant whence they came. Several hundred lamps
twinkled round the high altar, quite lost in the immensity of the pile.
No other light disturbed my reveries but the dying glow still visible
through the western windows. Imagine how I felt upon finding myself
alone in this vast temple at so late an hour. Do you think I quitted it
without some revelation?

It was almost eight o’clock before I issued forth, and, pausing a few
minutes under the porticos, listened to the rush of the fountains: then
traversing half the town, I believe, in my way to the Villa Medici,
under which I am lodged, fell into a profound repose, which my zeal and
exercise may be allowed, I think, to have merited.

October 30th.

Immediately after breakfast I repaired again to St. Peter’s, which even
exceeded the height of my expectations. I could hardly quit it. I wish
his Holiness would allow me to erect a little tabernacle within this
glorious temple. I should desire no other prospect during the winter; no
other sky than the vast arches glowing with golden ornaments, so lofty
as to lose all glitter or gaudiness. But I cannot say I should be
perfectly contented, unless I could obtain another tabernacle for you.
Thus established, we would take our evening walks on the field of
marble; for is not the pavement vast enough for the extravagance of the
appellation? Sometimes, instead of climbing a mountain, we should ascend
the cupola, and look down on our little encampment below. At night I
should wish for a constellation of lamps dispersed about in clusters,
and so contrived as to diffuse a mild and equal light. Music should not
be wanting: at one time to breathe in the subterraneous chapels, at
another to echo through the dome.

The doors should be closed, and not a mortal admitted. No priests, no
cardinals: God forbid! We would have all the space to ourselves, and to
beings of our own visionary persuasion.

I was so absorbed in my imaginary palace, and exhausted with contriving
plans for its embellishment, as scarcely to have spirits left for the
Pantheon, which I visited late in the evening, and entered with a
reverence approaching to superstition. The whiteness of the dome
offended me, for, alas! this venerable temple has been whitewashed. I
slunk into one of the recesses, closed my eyes, transported myself into
antiquity; then opened them again, tried to persuade myself the Pagan
gods were in their niches, and the saints out of the question; was vexed
at coming to my senses, and finding them all there, St. Andrew with his
cross, and St. Agnes with her lamb, &c. Then I paced disconsolately into
the portico, which shows the name of Agrippa on its pediment. Fixed for
a few minutes against a Corinthian column, I lamented that no pontiff
arrived with victims and aruspices, of whom I might enquire, what, in
the name of birds and garbage, put me so terribly out of humour! for you
must know I was very near being disappointed, and began to think
Piranesi and Paolo Panini had been a great deal too colossal in their
representations of this venerable structure. I left the column, walked
to the centre of the temple, and there remained motionless as a statue.
Some architects have celebrated the effect of light from the opening
above, and pretended it to be distributed in such a manner as to give
those, who walk beneath, the appearance of mystic beings streaming with
radiance. If that were the case! I appeared, to be sure, a luminous
figure, and never stood I more in need of something to enliven me.

My spirits were not mended upon returning home. I had expected a heap of
Venetian letters, but could not discover one. I had received no
intelligence from England for many a tedious day; and for aught I can
tell to the contrary, you may have been dead these three weeks. I think
I shall wander soon in the Catacombs, which I try lustily to persuade
myself communicate with the lower world; and perhaps I may find some
letter there from you lying upon a broken sarcophagus, dated from the
realms of Night, and giving an account of your descent into her bosom.
Yet, I pray continually, notwithstanding my curiosity to learn what
passes in the dark regions beyond the tomb, that you will remain a few
years longer on our planet; for what would become of me should I lose
sight of you for ever? Stay, therefore, as long as you can, and let us
have the delight of dozing a little more of this poor existence away
together, and steeping ourselves in pleasant dreams.



LETTER XXI.

     Leave Rome for Naples.--Scenery in the vicinity of
     Rome.--Albano.--Malaria.--Veletri.--Classical associations.--The
     Circean Promontory.--Terracina.--Ruined Palace.--Mountain
     Groves.--Rock of Circe.--The Appian Way.--Arrive at Mola di
     Gaieta.--Beautiful prospect.--A Deluge.--Enter Naples by night,
     during a fearful Storm.--Clear Morning.--View from my
     window.--Courtly Mob at the Palace.--The Presence Chamber.--The
     King and his Courtiers.--Party at the House of Sir W. H.--Grand
     Illumination at the Theatre of St. Carlo.--Marchesi.


November 1st, 1780.

Though you find I am not yet snatched away from the earth, according to
my last night’s bodings, I was far too restless and dispirited to
deliver my recommendatory letters. St. Carlos, a mighty day of gala at
Naples, was an excellent excuse for leaving Rome, and indulging my
roving disposition. After spending my morning at St. Peter’s, we set off
about four o’clock, and drove by the Coliseo and a Capuchin convent,
whose monks were all busied in preparing the skeletons of their order,
to figure by torch-light in the evening. St. John’s of Lateran
astonished me. I could not help walking several times round the obelisk,
and admiring the noble space in which the palace is erected, and the
extensive scene of towers and aqueducts discovered from the platform in
front.

We went out at the Porta Appia, and began to perceive the plains which
surround the city opening on every side. Long reaches of walls and
arches, seldom interrupted, stretch across them. Sometimes, indeed, a
withered pine, lifting itself up to the mercy of every blast that sweeps
the champagne, breaks their uniformity. Between the aqueducts to the
left, nothing but wastes of fern, or tracts of ploughed lands, dark and
desolate, are visible, the corn not being yet sprung up. On the right,
several groups of ruined fanes and sepulchres diversify the levels, with
here and there a garden or woody enclosure. Such objects are scattered
over the landscape, which towards the horizon bulges into gentle
ascents, and, rising by degrees, swells at length into a chain of
mountains, which received the pale gleams of the sun setting in watery
clouds.

By this uncertain light we discovered the white buildings of Albano,
sprinkled about the steeps. We had not many moments to contemplate them,
for it was night when we passed the Torre di mezza via, and began
breathing a close pestilential vapour. Half suffocated, and recollecting
a variety of terrifying tales about the malaria, we advanced, not
without fear, to Veletri, and hardly ventured to fall asleep when
arrived there.

November 2nd.

I arose at day-break, and, forgetting fevers and mortalities, ran into a
level meadow without the town, whilst the horses were putting to the
carriage. Why should I calumniate the pearly transparent air? it seemed
at least purer than any I had before inhaled. Being perfectly alone, and
not discovering any trace of the neighbouring city, I fancied myself
existing in the ancient days of Hesperia, and hoped to meet Picus in his
woods before the evening. But, instead of those shrill clamours which
used to echo through the thickets when Pan joined with mortals in the
chase, I heard the rumbling of our carriage, and the cursing of
postilions. Mounting a horse I flew before them, and seemed to catch
inspiration from the breezes. Now I turned my eyes to the ridge of
precipices, in whose grots and caverns Saturn and his people passed
their life; then to the distant ocean. Afar off rose the cliff, so
famous for Circe’s incantations, and the whole line of coasts, which was
once covered with her forests.

Whilst I was advancing with full speed, the sun-beams began to shoot
athwart the mountains, the plains to light up by degrees, and their
shrubberies of myrtle to glisten with dew-drops. The sea brightened, and
the Circean promontory soon glowed with purple. All day we kept winding
through this enchanted country. Towards evening Terracina appeared
before us, in a bold romantic scite; house above house, and turret
looking over turret, on the steeps of a mountain, enclosed with
mouldering walls, and crowned by the ruined terraces of a palace; one of
those, perhaps, which the luxurious Romans inhabited during the summer,
when so free and lofty an exposition (the sea below, with its gales and
murmurs) must have been delightful. Groves of orange and citron hang on
the declivity, rough with the Indian fig, whose bright red flowers,
illuminated by the sun, had a magic splendour. A palm-tree, growing on
the highest crag, adds not a little to its singular appearance. Being
the largest I had yet seen, and clustered with fruit, I climbed up the
rocks to take a sketch of it; and looking down upon the beach and glassy
plains of ocean, exclaimed with Martial:

    O nemus! O fontes! solidumque madentis arenæ
      Littus, et æquoreis splendidus Anxur aquis!

Glancing my eyes athwart the sea, I fixed them on the rock of Circe,
which lies right opposite to Terracina, joined to the continent by a
very narrow strip of land, and appearing like an island. The roar of the
waves lashing the base of the precipices, might still be thought the
howl of savage monsters; but where are those woods which shaded the dome
of the goddess? Scarce a tree appears. A few thickets, and but a few,
are the sole remains of this once impenetrable vegetation; yet even
these I longed to visit, such was my predilection for the spot.

Descending the cliff, and pursuing our route to Mola along the shore, by
a grand road formed on the ruins of the Appian Way, we drove under an
enormous perpendicular rock, standing detached, like a watch tower, and
cut into arsenals and magazines. Day closed just as we got beyond it,
and a new moon gleamed faintly on the waters. We saw fires afar off in
the bay; some twinkling on the coast, others upon the waves, and heard
the murmur of voices; for the night was still and solemn, like that of
Cajetas’s funeral. I looked anxiously on a sea, where the heroes of the
Odyssey and Æneid had sailed to fulfil their mystic destinies.

Nine struck when we arrived at Mola di Gaeta. The boats were just coming
in (whose lights we had seen out upon the main), and brought such fish
as Neptune, I dare say, would have grudged Æneas and Ulysses.


November 3rd.

The morning was soft, but hazy. I walked in a grove of orange trees,
white with blossoms, and at the same time glowing with fruit. The spot
sloped pleasantly toward the sea, and here I loitered till the horses
were ready, then set off on the Appian, between hedges of myrtle and
aloes. We observed a variety of towns, with battlemented walls and
ancient turrets, crowning the pinnacles of rocky steeps, surrounded by
wilds, and rude uncultivated mountains. The Liris, now Garigliano, winds
its peaceful course through wide extensive meadows, scattered over with
the remains of aqueducts, and waters the base of the rocks I have just
mentioned. Such a prospect could not fail of bringing Virgil’s panegyric
of Italy into my mind:

    Tot congesta manu præruptis oppida saxis
    Fluminaque antiquos subterlabentia muros.

As soon as we arrived in sight of Capua, the sky darkened, clouds
covered the horizon, and presently poured down such deluges of rain as
floated the whole country. The gloom was general; Vesuvius disappeared
just after we had discovered it. At four o’clock darkness universally
prevailed, except when a livid glare of lightning presented momentary
glimpses of the bay and mountains. We lighted torches, and forded
several torrents almost at the hazard of our lives. The plains of Aversa
were filled with herds, lowing most piteously, and yet not half so much
scared as their masters, who ran about raving and ranting like Indians
during the eclipse of the moon. I knew Vesuvius had often put their
courage to proof, but little thought of an inundation occasioning such
commotions.

For three hours the storm increased in violence, and instead of
entering Naples on a calm evening, and viewing its delightful shores by
moonlight--instead of finding the squares and terraces thronged with
people and animated by music, we advanced with fear and terror through
dark streets totally deserted, every creature being shut up in their
houses, and we heard nothing but driving rain, rushing torrents, and the
fall of fragments beaten down by their violence. Our inn, like every
other habitation, was in great disorder, and we waited a long while
before we could settle in our apartments with any comfort. All night the
waves roared round the rocky foundations of a fortress beneath my
windows, and the lightning played clear in my eyes.


November 4th.

Peace was restored to nature in the morning, but every mouth was full of
the dreadful accidents which had happened in the night. The sky was
cloudless when I awoke, and such was the transparence of the atmosphere
that I could clearly discern the rocks, and even some white buildings on
the island of Caprea, though at the distance of thirty miles. A large
window fronts my bed, and its casements being thrown open, gives me a
vast prospect of ocean uninterrupted, except by the peaks of Caprea and
the Cape of Sorento. I lay half an hour gazing on the smooth level
waters, and listening to the confused voices of the fishermen, passing
and repassing in light skiffs, which came and disappeared in an instant.

Running to the balcony the moment my eyes were fairly open (for till
then I saw objects, I know not how, as one does in dreams,) I leaned
over its rails and viewed Vesuvius rising distinct into the blue æther,
with all that world of gardens and casinos which are scattered about its
base; then looked down into the street, deep below, thronged with people
in holiday garments, and carriages, and soldiers in full parade. The
shrubby, variegated shore of Posilipo drew my attention to the opposite
side of the bay. It was on those very rocks, under those tall pines,
Sannazaro was wont to sit by moonlight, or at peep of dawn, composing
his marine eclogues. It is there he still sleeps; and I wished to have
gone immediately and strewed coral over his tomb, but I was obliged to
check my impatience and hurry to the palace in form and gala.

A courtly mob had got thither upon the same errand, daubed over with
lace and most notably be-periwigged. Nothing but bows and salutations
were going forward on the staircase, one of the largest I ever beheld,
and which a multitude of prelates and friars were ascending with awkward
pomposity. I jostled along to the presence chamber, where his Majesty
was dining alone in a circular enclosure of fine clothes and smirking
faces. The moment he had finished, twenty long necks were poked forth,
and it was a glorious struggle amongst some of the most decorated who
first should kiss his hand, the great business of the day. Everybody
pressed forward to the best of their abilities. His Majesty seemed to
eye nothing but the end of his nose, which is doubtless a capital
object.

Though people have imagined him a weak monarch, I beg leave to differ in
opinion, since he has the boldness to prolong his childhood and be
happy, in spite of years and conviction. Give him a boar to stab, and a
pigeon to shoot at, a battledore or an angling rod, and he is better
contented than Solomon in all his glory, and will never discover, like
that sapient sovereign, that all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

His courtiers in general have rather a barbaric appearance, and differ
little in the character of their physiognomies from the most savage
nations. I should have taken them for Calmucks or Samoieds, had it not
been for their dresses and European finery.

You may suppose I was not sorry, after my presentation was over, to
return to Sir W. H.’s, where an interesting group of lovely women,
literati, and artists, were assembled--Gagliani and Cyrillo, Aprile,
Milico, and Deamicis--the determined Santo Marco, and the more
nymph-like modest-looking, though not less dangerous, Belmonte. Gagliani
happened to be in full story, and vied with his countryman Polichinello,
not only in gesticulation and loquacity, but in the excessive
licentiousness of his narrations. He was proceeding beyond all bounds of
decency and decorum, at least according to English notions, when Lady
H.[8] sat down to the pianoforte. Her plaintive modulations breathed a
far different language. No performer that ever I heard produced such
soothing effects; they seemed the emanations of a pure, uncontaminated
mind, at peace with itself and benevolently desirous of diffusing that
happy tranquillity around it; these were modes a Grecian legislature
would have encouraged to further the triumph over vice of the most
amiable virtue.

The evening was passing swiftly away, and I had almost forgotten there
was a grand illumination at the theatre of St. Carlo. After traversing a
number of dark streets, we suddenly entered this enormous edifice, whose
seven rows of boxes one above the other blazed with tapers. I never
beheld such lofty walls of light, nor so pompous a decoration as covered
the stage. Marchesi was singing in the midst of all these splendours
some of the poorest music imaginable, with the clearest and most
triumphant voice, perhaps, in the universe.

It was some time before I could look to any purpose around me, or
discover what animals inhabited this glittering world: such was its size
and glare. At last I perceived vast numbers of swarthy ill-favoured
beings, in gold and silver raiment, peeping out of their boxes. The
court being present, a tolerable silence was maintained, but the moment
his Majesty withdrew (which great event took place at the beginning of
the second act) every tongue broke loose, and nothing but buzz and
hubbub filled up the rest of the entertainment.



LETTER XXII.

     View of the coast of Posilipo.--Virgil’s tomb.--Superstition of the
     Neapolitans with respect to Virgil.--Aërial situation.--A grand
     scene.


November 6th, 1780.

Till to-day we have had nothing but rains; the sea covered with mists,
and Caprea invisible. Would you believe it? I have not yet been able to
mount to St. Elmo and the Capo di Monte, in order to take a general view
of the town.

At length a bright gleam of sunshine summoned me to the broad terrace of
Chiaja, which commands the whole coast of Posilipo. Insensibly I drew
towards it, and (you know the pace I run when out upon discoveries) soon
reached the entrance of the grotto, which lay in dark shades, whilst the
crags that lower over it were brightly illumined. Shrubs and vines grow
luxuriantly in the crevices of the rock; and its fresh yellow colours,
variegated with ivy, have a beautiful effect. To the right, a grove of
pines spring from the highest pinnacles: on the left, bay and chesnut
conceal the tomb of Virgil placed on the summit of a cliff which impends
over the opening of the grotto, and is fringed with vegetation. Beneath
are several wide apertures hollowed in the solid stone, which lead to
caverns sixty or seventy feet in depth, where a number of peasants, who
were employed in quarrying, made a strange but not absolutely
unharmonious din with their tools and their voices.

Walking out of the sunshine, I seated myself on a loose stone
immediately beneath the first gloomy arch of the grotto, and looking
down the long and solemn perspective terminated by a speck of gray
uncertain light, venerated a work which some old chroniclers have
imagined as ancient as the Trojan war. It was here the mysterious race
of the Cimmerians performed their infernal rites, and it was this
excavation perhaps which led to their abode.

The Neapolitans attribute a more modern, though full as problematical an
origin to their famous cavern, and most piously believe it to have been
formed by the enchantments of Virgil, who, as Addison very justly
observes, is better known at Naples in his magical character than as
the author of the Æneid. This strange infatuation most probably arose
from the vicinity of the tomb in which his ashes are supposed to have
been deposited; and which, according to popular tradition, was guarded
by those very spirits who assisted in constructing the cave. But
whatever may have given rise to these ideas, certain it is they were not
confined to the lower ranks alone. King Robert,[9] a wise though far
from poetical monarch, conducted his friend Petrarch with great
solemnity to the spot; and, pointing to the entrance of the grotto, very
gravely asked him, whether he did not adopt the general belief, and
conclude this stupendous passage derived its origin from Virgil’s
powerful incantations? The answer, I think, may easily be conjectured.

When I had sat for some time, contemplating this dusky avenue, and
trying to persuade myself that it was hewn by the Cimmerians, I
retreated without proceeding any farther, and followed a narrow path
which led me, after some windings and turnings, along the brink of the
precipice, across a vineyard, to that retired nook of the rocks which
shelters Virgil’s tomb, most venerably mossed over and more than half
concealed by bushes and vegetation. The clown who conducted me remained
aloof at awful distance, whilst I sat commercing with the manes of my
beloved poet, or straggled about the shrubbery which hangs directly
above the mouth of the grot.

Advancing to the edge of the rock, I saw crowds of people and carriages,
diminished by distance, issuing from the bosom of the mountain and
disappearing almost as soon as discovered in the windings of its road.
Clambering high above the cavern, I hazarded my neck on the top of one
of the pines, and looked contemptuously down on the race of pigmies that
were so busily moving to and fro. The sun was fiercer than I could have
wished, but the sea-breezes fanned me in my aërial situation, which
commanded the grand sweep of the bay, varied by convents, palaces, and
gardens mixed with huge masses of rock and crowned by the stately
buildings of the Carthusians and fortress of St. Elmo. Add a glittering
blue sea to this perspective, with Caprea rising from its bosom and
Vesuvius breathing forth a white column of smoke into the æther, and you
will then have a scene upon which I gazed with delight, for more than
an hour, almost forgetting that I was perched upon the head of a pine
with nothing but a frail branch to uphold me. However, I descended
alive, as Virgil’s genii, I am resolved to believe, were my protectors.



LETTER XXIII.

     A ramble on the shore of Baii.--Local traditions.--Cross the
     bay.--Fragments of a temple dedicated to Hercules.--Wondrous
     reservoir constructed for the fleet of Nero.--The Dead Lake.--Wild
     scene.--Beautiful meadow. Uncouth rocks.--An unfathomable
     gulph.--Sadness induced by the wild appearance of the
     place.--Conversation with a recluse.--Her fearful
     narration.--Melancholy evening.


November 8th, 1780.

This morning I awoke in the glow of sunshine--the air blew fresh and
fragrant--never did I feel more elastic and enlivened. A brisker flow of
spirits than I had for many a day experienced, animated me with a desire
of rambling about the shore of Baii, and creeping into caverns and
subterraneous chambers. Off I set along the Chiaja, and up strange paths
which impend over the grotto of Posilipo, amongst the thickets mentioned
a letter or two ago; for in my present buoyant humour I disdained
ordinary roads, and would take paths and ways of my own. A society of
kids did not understand what I meant by intruding upon their precipices;
and scrambling away, scattered sand and fragments upon the good people
that were trudging along the pavement below.

I went on from pine to pine and thicket to thicket, upon the brink of
rapid declivities. My conductor, a shrewd savage, whom Sir William had
recommended to me, cheered our route with stories that had passed in the
neighbourhood, and traditions about the grot over which we were
travelling. I wish you had been of the party, and sat down by us on
little smooth spots of sward, where I reclined, scarcely knowing which
way caprice had led me. My mind was full of the tales of the place, and
glowed with a vehement desire of exploring the world beyond the grot. I
longed to ascend the promontory of Misenus, and follow the same dusky
route down which the Sibyl conducted Æneas.

With these dispositions I proceeded; and soon the cliffs and copses
opened to views of the Baian sea with the little isles of Niscita and
Lazaretto, lifting themselves out of the waters. Procita and Ischia
appeared at a distance invested with that purple bloom so inexpressibly
beautiful, and peculiar to this fortunate climate. I hailed the
prospect, and blessed the transparent air that gave me life and vigour
to run down the rocks, and hie as fast as my savage across the plain to
Pozzuoli. There we took bark and rowed out into the blue ocean, by the
remains of a sturdy mole: many such, I imagine, adorned the bay in Roman
ages, crowned by vast lengths of slender pillars; pavilions at their
extremities and taper cypresses spiring above their balustrades: this
character of villa occurs very frequently in the paintings of
Herculaneum.

We had soon crossed the bay, and landing on a bushy coast near some
fragments of a temple which they say was raised to Hercules, advanced
into the country by narrow tracks covered with moss and strewed with
shining pebbles; to the right and left, broad masses of luxuriant
foliage, chesnut, bay and ilex, that shelter the ruins of sepulchral
chambers. No parties of smart Englishmen and connoisseurs were about. I
had all the land to myself, and mounted its steeps and penetrated into
its recesses, with the importance of a discoverer. What a variety of
narrow paths, between banks and shades, did I wildly follow! my savage
laughing loud at my odd gestures and useless activity. He wondered I did
not scrape the ground for medals, and pocket little bits of plaster,
like other inquisitive young travellers that had gone before me.

After ascending some time, I followed him into the wondrous[10]
reservoir which Nero constructed to supply his fleet, when anchored in
the neighbouring bay. A noise of trickling waters prevailed throughout
this grand labyrinth of solid vaults and arches, that had almost lulled
me to sleep as I rested myself on the celandine which carpets the floor;
but curiosity urging me forward, I gained the upper air; walked amongst
woods a few minutes, and then into grots and dismal excavations (prisons
they call them) which began to weary me.

After having gone up and down in this manner for some time, we at last
reached an eminence that commanded the Mare Morto, and Elysian fields
trembling with reeds and poplars. The Dead Lake, a faithful emblem of
eternal tranquillity, looked deep and solemn. A few peasants seemed
fixed on its margin, their shadows reflected on the water. Turning from
the lake I espied a rock at about a league distant, whose summit was
clad with verdure, and finding this to be the promontory of Misenus, I
immediately set my face to that quarter.

We passed several dirty villages, inhabited by an ill-favoured
generation, infamous for depredations and murders. Their gardens,
however, discover some marks of industry; the fields are separated by
neat hedges of cane, and a variety of herbs and pulses and Indian corn
seemed to flourish in the inclosures. Insensibly we began to leave the
cultivated lands behind us, and to lose ourselves in shady wilds, which,
to all appearance, no mortal had ever trodden. Here were no paths, no
inclosures; a primeval rudeness characterized the whole scene.

After forcing our way about a mile, through glades of shrubs and briars,
we entered a lawn-like opening at the base of the cliff which takes its
name from Misenus. The poets of the Augustan age would have celebrated
such a meadow with the warmest raptures, and peopled its green expanse
with all the sylvan demi-gods of their beautiful mythology. Here were
springs issuing from rocks of pumice, and grassy hillocks partially
concealed by thickets of bay.

    Et circum irriguo surgebant lilia prato
    Candida purpureis mista papaveribus.

But as it is not the lot of human animals to be contented, instead of
reposing in the vale, I scaled the rock, and was three parts dissolved
in attaining its summit. The sun darted upon my head, I wished to avoid
its immediate influence; no tree was near; the pleasant valley lay below
at a considerable depth, and it was a long way to descend to it. Looking
round and round, I spied something like a hut, under a crag on the edge
of a dark fissure. Might I avail myself of its covert? My conductor
answered in the affirmative, and added that it was inhabited by a good
old woman, who never refused a cup of milk, or slice of bread, to
refresh a weary traveller.

Thirst and fatigue urged me speedily down an intervening slope of
stunted myrtle. Though oppressed with heat, I could not help deviating a
few steps from the direct path to notice the uncouth rocks which rose
frowning on every quarter. Above the hut, their appearance was truly
formidable, bristled over with sharp-spired dwarf aloes, such as
Lucifer himself might be supposed to have sown. Indeed I knew not
whether I was not approaching some gate that leads to his abode, as I
drew near a gulph (the fissure lately mentioned) and heard the deep
hollow murmurs of the gusts which were imprisoned below. The savage, my
guide, shuddered as he passed by to apprise the old woman of my coming.
I felt strangely, and stared around me, and but half liked my situation.

In the midst of my doubts, forth tottered the old woman. “You are
welcome,” said she, in a feeble voice, but a better dialect than I had
heard in the neighbourhood. Her look was more humane, and she seemed of
a superior race to the inhabitants of the surrounding valleys. My savage
treated her with peculiar deference. She had just given him some bread,
with which he retired to a respectful distance bowing to the earth. I
caught the mode, and was very obsequious, thinking myself on the point
of experiencing a witch’s influence, and gaining, perhaps, some insight
into the volume of futurity. She smiled at my agitation and kept
beckoning me into the cottage.

“Now,” thought I to myself, “I am upon the verge of an adventure.” I saw
nothing, however, but clay walls, a straw bed, some glazed earthen
bowls, and a wooden crucifix. My shoes were loaded with sand: this my
hostess perceived, and immediately kindling a fire in an inner part of
the hovel, brought out some warm water to refresh my feet, and set some
milk and chesnuts before me. This patriarchal attention was by no means
indifferent after my tiresome ramble. I sat down opposite to the door
which fronted the unfathomable gulph; beyond appeared the sea, of a deep
cerulean, foaming with waves. The sky also was darkening apace with
storms. Sadness came over me like a cloud, and I looked up to the old
woman for consolation.

“And you too are sorrowful, young stranger,” said she, “that come from
the gay world! how must I feel, who pass year after year in these lonely
mountains?” I answered that the weather affected me, and my spirits were
exhausted by the walk.

All the while I spoke she looked at me with such a melancholy
earnestness that I asked the cause, and began again to imagine myself
in some fatal habitation,

    Where more is meant than meets the ear.

“Your features,” said she, “are wonderfully like those of an unfortunate
young person, who, in this retirement....” The tears began to fall as
she pronounced these words; my curiosity was fired. “Tell me,” continued
I, “what you mean; who was this youth for whom you are so interested?
and why did he seclude himself in this wild region? Your kindness to him
might no doubt have alleviated, in some measure, the horrors of the
place; but may God defend me from passing the night near such a gulph! I
would not trust myself in a despairing moment.”

“It is,” said she, “a place of horrors. I tremble to relate what has
happened on this very spot; but your manner interests me, and though I
am little given to narrations, for once I will unlock my lips concerning
the secrets of yonder fatal chasm.

“I was born in a distant part of Italy, and have known better days. In
my youth fortune smiled upon my family, but in a few years they withered
away; no matter by what accident. I am not going to talk much of
myself. Have patience a few moments! A series of unfortunate events
reduced me to indigence, and drove me to this desert, where, from
rearing goats and making their milk into cheese, by a different method
than is common in the Neapolitan state, I have, for about thirty years,
prolonged a sorrowful existence. My silent grief and constant retirement
had made me appear to some a saint, and to others a sorceress. The
slight knowledge I have of plants has been exaggerated, and, some years
back, the hours I gave up to prayer, and the recollection of former
friends, lost to me for ever! were cruelly intruded upon by the idle and
the ignorant. But soon I sank into obscurity: my little recipes were
disregarded, and you are the first stranger who, for these twelve months
past, has visited my abode. Ah, would to God its solitude had ever
remained inviolate!

“It is now three-and-twenty years,” and she looked upon some characters
cut on the planks of the cottage, “since I was sitting by moonlight,
under that cliff you view to the right, my eyes fixed on the ocean, my
mind lost in the memory of my misfortunes, when I heard a step, and
starting up, a figure stood before me. It was a young man, in a rich
habit, with streaming hair, and looks that bespoke the utmost terror. I
knew not what to think of this sudden apparition. ‘Mother,’ said he with
faltering accents, ‘let me rest under your roof; and deliver me not up
to those who thirst after my blood. Take this gold; take all, all!’

“Surprise held me speechless; the purse fell to the ground; the youth
stared wildly on every side: I heard many voices beyond the rocks; the
wind bore them distinctly, but presently they died away. I took courage,
and assured the youth my cot should shelter him. ‘Oh! thank you, thank
you!’ answered he, and pressed my hand. He shared my scanty provision.

“Overcome with toil (for I had worked hard in the day) sleep closed my
eyes for a short interval. When I awoke the moon was set, but I heard my
unhappy guest sobbing in darkness. I disturbed him not. Morning dawned,
and he was fallen into a slumber. The tears bubbled out of his closed
eyelids, and coursed one another down his wan cheeks. I had been too
wretched myself not to respect the sorrows of another: neglecting
therefore my accustomed occupations, I drove away the flies that buzzed
around his temples. His breast heaved high with sighs, and he cried
loudly in his sleep for mercy.

“The beams of the sun dispelling his dream, he started up like one that
had heard the voice of an avenging angel, and hid his face with his
hands. I poured some milk down his parched throat. ‘Oh, mother!’ he
exclaimed, ‘I am a wretch unworthy of compassion; the cause of
innumerable sufferings; a murderer! a parricide!’ My blood curdled to
hear a stripling utter such dreadful words, and behold such agonising
sighs swell in so young a bosom; for I marked the sting of conscience
urging him to disclose what I am going to relate.

“It seems he was of high extraction, nursed in the pomps and luxuries of
Naples, the pride and darling of his parents, adorned with a thousand
lively talents, which the keenest sensibility conspired to improve.
Unable to fix any bounds to whatever became the object of his desires,
he passed his first years in roving from one extravagance to another,
but as yet there was no crime in his caprices.

“At length it pleased Heaven to visit his family, and make their idol
the slave of an unbridled passion. He had a friend, who from his birth
had been devoted to his interest, and placed all his confidence in him.
This friend loved to distraction a young creature, the most graceful of
her sex (as I can witness), and she returned his affection. In the
exultation of his heart he showed her to the wretch whose tale I am
about to tell. He sickened at her sight. She too caught fire at his
glances. They languished--they consumed away--they conversed, and his
persuasive language finished what his guilty glances had begun.

“Their flame was soon discovered, for he disdained to conceal a thought,
however dishonourable. The parents warned the youth in the tenderest
manner; but advice and prudent counsels were to him so loathsome, that
unable to contain his rage, and infatuated with love, he menaced the
life of his friend as the obstacle of his enjoyment. Coolness and
moderation were opposed to violence and frenzy, and he found himself
treated with a contemptuous gentleness. Stricken to the heart, he
wandered about for some time like one entranced. Meanwhile the nuptials
were preparing, and the lovely girl he had perverted found ways to let
him know she was about to be torn from his embraces.

“He raved like a demoniac, and rousing his dire spirit, applied to a
malignant wretch who sold the most inveterate poisons. These he infused
into a cup of pure iced water and presented to his friend, and to his
own too fond confiding father, who soon after they had drunk the fatal
potion began evidently to pine away. He marked the progress of their
dissolution with a horrid firmness, he let the moment pass beyond which
all antidotes were vain. His friend expired; and the young criminal,
though he beheld the dews of death hang on his parent’s forehead, yet
stretched not forth his hand. In a short space the miserable father
breathed his last, whilst his son was sitting aloof in the same chamber.

“The sight overcame him. He felt, for the first time, the pangs of
remorse. His agitations passed not unnoticed. He was watched: suspicions
beginning to unfold he took alarm, and one evening escaped; but not
without previously informing the partner of his crimes which way he
intended to flee. Several pursued; but the inscrutable will of
Providence blinded their search, and I was doomed to behold the effects
of celestial vengeance.

“Such are the chief circumstances of the tale I gathered from the youth.
I swooned whilst he related it, and could take no sustenance. One whole
day afterwards did I pray the Lord, that I might die rather than be near
an incarnate demon. With what indignation did I now survey that slender
form and those flowing tresses, which had interested me before so much
in his behalf!

“No sooner did he perceive the change in my countenance, than sullenly
retiring to yonder rock he sat careless of the sun and scorching winds;
for it was now the summer solstice. He was equally heedless of the
unwholesome dews. When midnight came my horrors were augmented; and I
meditated several times to abandon my hovel and fly to the next village;
but a power more than human chained me to the spot and fortified my
mind.

“I slept, and it was late next morning when some one called at the
wicket of the little fold, where my goats are penned. I arose, and saw a
peasant of my acquaintance leading a female strangely muffled up, and
casting her eyes on the ground. My heart misgave me. I thought this was
the very maid who had been the cause of such atrocious wickedness. Nor
were my conjectures ill-founded. Regardless of the clown who stood by in
stupid astonishment, she fell to the earth and bathed my hand with
tears. Her trembling lips with difficulty enquired after the youth; and,
as she spoke, a glow of conscious guilt lightened up her pale
countenance.

“The full recollection of her lover’s crimes shot through my memory. I
was incensed, and would have spurned her away; but, she clung to my
garments and seemed to implore my pity with a look so full of misery,
that, relenting, I led her in silence to the extremity of the cliff
where the youth was seated, his feet dangling above the sea. His eye was
rolling wildly around, but it soon fixed upon the object for whose sake
he had doomed himself to perdition.

“Far be it from me to describe their ecstasies, or the eagerness with
which they sought each other’s embraces. I indignantly turned my head
away; and, driving my goats to a recess amongst the rocks, sat revolving
in my mind these strange events. I neglected procuring any provision for
my unwelcome guests; and about midnight returned homewards by the light
of the moon which shone serenely in the heavens. Almost the first object
her beams discovered was the guilty maid sustaining the head of her
lover, who had fainted through weakness and want of nourishment. I
fetched some dry bread, and dipping it in milk laid it before them.
Having performed this duty I set open the door of my hut, and retiring
to a neighbouring cavity, there stretched myself on a heap of leaves and
offered my prayers to Heaven.

“A thousand fears, till this moment unknown, thronged into my fancy. The
shadow of leaves that chequered the entrance to the grot, seemed to
assume in my distempered imagination the form of ugly reptiles, and I
repeatedly shook my garments. The flow of the distant surges was
deepened by my apprehensions into distant groans: in a word, I could not
rest; but issuing from the cavern as hastily as my trembling knees would
allow, paced along the edge of the precipice. An unaccountable impulse
would have hurried my steps, yet such was my terror and shivering, that
unable to advance to my hut or retreat to the cavern, I was about to
shield myself from the night in a sandy crevice, when a loud shriek
pierced my ear. My fears had confused me; I was in fact near my hovel
and scarcely three paces from the brink of the cavern: it was thence the
cries proceeded.

“Advancing in a cold shudder to its edge, part of which was newly
crumbled in, I discovered the form of the young man suspended by one
foot to a branch of juniper that grew several feet down: thus dreadfully
did he hang over the gulph from the branch bending with his weight. His
features were distorted, his eye-balls glared with agony, and his
screams became so shrill and terrible that I lost all power of affording
assistance. Fixed, I stood with my eyes riveted upon the criminal, who
incessantly cried out, ‘O God! O Father! save me if there be yet mercy!
save me, or I sink into the abyss!’

“I am convinced he did not see me; for not once did he implore my help.
His voice grew faint, and as I gazed intent upon him, the loose thong of
leather, which had entangled itself in the branches by which he hung
suspended, gave way, and he fell into utter darkness. I sank to the
earth in a trance; during which a sound like the rush of pennons
assaulted my ear: methought the evil spirit was bearing off his soul;
but when I lifted up my eyes nothing stirred; the stillness that
prevailed was awful.

“The moon hanging low over the waves afforded a sickly light, by which I
perceived some one coming down that white cliff you see before you; and
I soon heard the voice of the young woman calling aloud on her guilty
lover. She stopped. She repeated again and again her exclamation; but
there was no reply. Alarmed and frantic she hurried along the path, and
now I saw her on the promontory, and now by yonder pine, devouring with
her glances every crevice in the rock. At length perceiving me, she flew
to where I stood, by the fatal precipice, and having noticed the
fragments fresh crumbled in, pored importunately on my countenance. I
continued pointing to the chasm; she trembled not; her tears could not
flow; but she divined the meaning. ‘He is lost!’ said she; ‘the earth
has swallowed him! but, as I have shared with him the highest joy, so
will I partake his torments. I will follow: dare not to hinder me.’

“Like the phantoms I have seen in dreams, she glanced beside me; and,
clasping her hands above her head, lifted a steadfast look on the
hemisphere, and viewed the moon with an anxiousness that told me she
was bidding it farewell for ever. Observing a silken handkerchief on the
ground, with which she had but an hour ago bound her lover’s temples,
she snatched it up, and imprinting it with burning kisses, thrust it
into her bosom. Once more, expanding her arms in the last act of despair
and miserable passion, she threw herself, with a furious leap, into the
gulph.

“To its margin I crawled on my knees, and there did I remain in the most
dreadful darkness; for now the moon was sunk, the sky obscured with
storms, and a tempestuous blast ranging the ocean. Showers poured thick
upon me, and the lightning, in clear and frequent flashes, gave me
terrifying glimpses of yonder accursed chasm.

“Stranger, dost thou believe in our Redeemer? in his most holy mother?
in the tenets of our faith?” I answered with reverence, but said her
faith and mine were different. “Then,” continued the aged woman, “I will
not declare before a heretic what were the visions of that night of
vengeance!” She paused; I was silent.

After a short interval, with deep and frequent sighs, she resumed her
narrative. “Daylight began to dawn as if with difficulty, and it was
late before its radiance had tinged the watery and tempestuous clouds. I
was still kneeling by the gulph in prayer when the cliffs began to
brighten, and the beams of the morning sun to strike against me. Then
did I rejoice. Then no longer did I think myself of all human beings the
most abject and miserable. How different did I feel myself from those,
fresh plunged into the abodes of torment, and driven for ever from the
morning!

“Three days elapsed in total solitude: on the fourth, some grave and
ancient persons arrived from Naples, who questioned me, repeatedly,
about the wretched lovers, and to whom I related their fate with every
dreadful particular. Soon after I learned that all discourse concerning
them was expressly stopped, and that no prayers were offered up for
their souls.”

With these words, as well as I recollect, the old woman ended her
singular narration. My blood thrilled as I walked by the gulph to call
my guide, who stood aloof under the cliffs. He seemed to think, from the
paleness of my countenance, that I had heard some gloomy prediction,
and shook his head, when I turned round to bid my old hostess adieu! It
was a melancholy evening, and I could not refrain from tears, whilst,
winding through the defiles of the rocks, the sad scenes which had
passed amongst them recurred to my memory.

Traversing a wild thicket, we soon regained the shore, where I rambled a
few minutes whilst the peasant went for the boatmen. The last streaks of
light were quivering on the waters when I stepped into the bark, and
wrapping myself up in an awning, slept till we reached Puzzoli, some of
whose inhabitants came forth with torches to light us home.



LETTER XXIV.

     The Tyrol Mountains.--Intense cold.--Delight on beholding human
     habitations.


Augsburg, 20th January, 1781.

For these ten days past have I been traversing Lapland: winds whistling
in my ears, and cones showering down upon my head from the wilds of pine
through which our route conducted us. We were often obliged to travel by
moonlight, and I leave you to imagine the awful aspect of the Tyrol
mountains buried in snow.

I scarcely ventured to utter an exclamation of surprise, though prompted
by some of the most striking scenes in nature, lest I should interrupt
the sacred silence that prevails, during winter, in these boundless
solitudes. The streams are frozen, and mankind petrified, for aught I
know to the contrary, since whole days have we journeyed on without
perceiving the slightest hint of their existence.

I never before felt so much pleasure by discovering a smoke rising from
a cottage, or hearing a heifer lowing in its stall; and could not have
supposed there was so much satisfaction in perceiving two or three fur
caps, with faces under them, peeping out of their concealments. I wish
you had been with me, exploring this savage region: wrapped up in our
bear-skins, we should have followed its secret avenues, and penetrated,
perhaps, into some enchanted cave lined with sables, where, like the
heroes of northern romances, we should have been waited upon by dwarfs,
and sung drowsily to repose. I think it no bad scheme to sleep away five
or six years to come, since every hour affairs are growing more and more
turbulent. Well, let them! provided we may enjoy, in security, the
shades of our thickets.



SECOND VISIT TO ITALY.



The following letters, written during a second excursion, are added, on
account of their affinity to some of the preceding.



LETTER I.

     First day of Summer.--A dismal Plain.--Gloomy entrance to
     Cologne.--Labyrinth of hideous edifices.--Hotel of Der Heilige
     Geist.


Cologne, 28th May, 1782.

This is the first day of summer; the oak leaves expand, the roses blow,
butterflies are on the wing, and I have spirits enough to write to you.
We have had clouded skies this fortnight past, and roads like the slough
of Despond. Last Wednesday we were benighted on a dismal plain,
apparently boundless. The moon cast a sickly gleam, and now and then a
blue meteor glided along the morass which lay before us.

After much difficulty we gained an avenue, and in an hour’s time
discovered something like a gateway, shaded by crooked elms and crowned
by a cluster of turrets. Here we paused and knocked; no one answered.
We repeated our knocks; the gate returned a hollow sound; the horses
coughed, their riders blew their horns. At length the bars fell, and we
entered--by what means I am ignorant, for no human being appeared.

A labyrinth of narrow winding streets, dark as the vaults of a
cathedral, opened to our view. We kept wandering along, at least twenty
minutes, between lofty mansions with grated windows and strange
galleries projecting one over another, from which depended innumerable
uncouth figures and crosses, in iron-work, swinging to and fro with the
wind. At the end of this gloomy maze we found a long street, not fifteen
feet wide, I am certain; the houses still loftier than those just
mentioned, the windows thicker barred, and the gibbets (for I know not
what else to call them) more frequent. Here and there we saw lights
glimmering in the highest stories, and arches on the right and left,
which seemed to lead into retired courts and deeper darkness.

Along one of these recesses we were jumbled, over such pavement as I
hope you may never tread upon; and, after parading round it, went out
at the same arch through which we had entered. This procession seemed at
first very mystical, but it was too soon accounted for by our
postilions, who confessed they had lost their way. A council was held
amongst them in form, and then we struck into another labyrinth of
hideous edifices, habitations I will not venture to call them, as not a
creature stirred; though the rumbling of our carriages was echoed by all
the vaults and arches.

Towards midnight we rested a few minutes, and a head poking out of a
casement directed us to the hotel of Der Heilige Geist, where an
apartment, thirty feet square, was prepared for our reception.



LETTER II.

     Enter the Tyrol.--Picturesque scenery.--Village of
     Nasseriet.--World of boughs.--Forest huts.--Floral abundance.


Inspruck, June 4, 1782.

No sooner had we passed Fuessen than we entered the Tyrol, a country of
picturesque wonders. Those lofty peaks, those steeps of wood I delight
in, lay before us. Innumerable clear springs gushed out on every side,
overhung by luxuriant shrubs in blossom. The day was mild, though
overcast, and a soft blue vapour rested upon the hills, above which rise
mountains that bear plains of snow into the clouds.

At night we lay at Nasseriet, a village buried amongst savage
promontories. The next morning we advanced, in bright sunshine, into
smooth lawns on the slopes of mountains, scattered over with larches,
whose delicate foliage formed a light green veil to the azure sky.
Flights of birds were merrily travelling from spray to spray. I ran
delighted into this world of boughs, whilst Cozens sat down to draw the
huts which are scattered about for the shelter of herds, and discover
themselves amongst the groves in the most picturesque manner.

These little edifices are uncommonly neat, and excite those ideas of
pastoral life to which I am so fondly attached. The turf from whence
they rise is enamelled, in the strict sense of the word, with flowers.
Gentians predominated, brighter than ultramarine; here and there
auriculas looked out of the moss, and I often reposed upon tufts of
ranunculus. Bushes of phillyrea were very frequent, the sun shining full
on their glossy leaves. An hour passed away swiftly in these pleasant
groves, where I lay supine under a lofty fir, a tower of leaves and
branches.



LETTER III.

     Rapidity of our drive along the causeways of the Brenta.--Shore of
     Fusina.--A stormy sky.--Draw near to Venice.--Its deserted
     appearance.--Visit to Madame de R.--Cesarotti.


Padua, June 14th, 1782.

Once more, said I to myself, I shall have the delight of beholding
Venice; so got into an open chaise, the strangest curricle that ever man
was jolted in, and drove furiously along the causeways by the Brenta,
into whose deep waters it is a mercy, methinks, I was not precipitated.
Fiesso, the Dolo, the Mira, with all their gardens, statues, and
palaces, seemed flying after each other, so rapid was our motion.

After a few hours’ confinement between close steeps, the scene opened to
the wide shore of Fusina. I looked up (for I had scarcely time to look
before) and beheld a troubled sky, shot with vivid red, the Lagunes
tinted like the opal, and the islands of a glowing flame-colour. The
mountains of the distant continent appeared of a deep melancholy grey,
and innumerable gondolas were passing to and fro in all their blackness.
The sun, after a long struggle, was swallowed up in the tempestuous
clouds.

In an hour we drew near to Venice, and saw its world of domes rising out
of the waters. A fresh breeze bore the toll of innumerable bells to my
ear. Sadness came over me as I entered the great canal, and recognised
those solemn palaces, with their lofty arcades and gloomy arches,
beneath which I had so often sat, the scene of many a strange adventure.

The Venetians being mostly at their villas on the Brenta, the town
appeared deserted. I visited, however, all my old haunts in the Place of
St. Mark, ran up the Campanile, and rowed backwards and forwards,
opposite the Ducal Palace, by moon-light. They are building a spacious
quay, near the street of the Sclavonians, fronting the island of San
Giorgio Maggiore, where I remained alone at least an hour, following the
wanderings of the moon amongst mountainous clouds, and listening to the
waters dashing against marble steps.

I closed my evening at my friend Madame de Rosenberg’s, where I met
Cesarotti, who read to us some of the most affecting passages in his
Fingal, with all the intensity of a poet, thoroughly persuaded that into
his own bosom the very soul of Ossian had been transfused.

Next morning the wind was uncommonly violent for the mild season of
June, and the canals much ruffled; but I was determined to visit the
Lido once more, and bathe on my accustomed beach. The pines in the
garden of the Carthusians were nodding as I passed by in my gondola,
which was very poetically buffeted by the waves.

Traversing the desert of locusts,[11] I hailed the Adriatic, and plunged
into its agitated waters. The sea, delightfully cool, refreshed me to
such a degree, that, upon my return to Venice, I found myself able to
thread its labyrinths of streets, canals, and alleys, in search of amber
and oriental curiosities. The variety of exotic merchandise, the perfume
of coffee, the shade of awnings, and the sight of Greeks and Asiatics
sitting cross-legged under them, made me think myself in the bazaars of
Constantinople.

It is certain my beloved town of Venice ever recalls a series of eastern
ideas and adventures. I cannot help thinking St. Mark’s a mosque, and
the neighbouring palace some vast seraglio, full of arabesque saloons,
embroidered sofas, and voluptuous Circassians.



LETTER IV.

     Excursion to Mirabello.--Beauty of the road thither.--Madame de
     R.’s wild-looking niece.--A comfortable Monk’s nest.


Padua, June 19th, 1782.

The morning was delightful, and St. Anthony’s bells in full chime. A
shower which had fallen in the night rendered the air so cool and
grateful, that Madame de R. and myself determined to seize the
opportunity and go to Mirabello, a country house, which Algarotti had
inhabited, situate amongst the Euganean hills, eight or nine miles from
Padua.

Our road lay between poplar alleys and fields of yellow corn, overhung
by garlands of vine, most beautifully green. I soon found myself in the
midst of my favourite hills, upon slopes covered with clover, and shaded
by cherry-trees. Bending down their boughs I gathered the fruit, and
grew cooler and happier every instant.

We dined very comfortably in a strange hall, where my friend’s little
wild-looking niece pitched her pianoforte, and sang the voluptuous airs
of Bertoni’s Armida. That enchantress might have raised her palace in
this situation; and, had I been Rinaldo, I certainly should not very
soon have abandoned it.

After dinner we drank coffee under some branching lemons, which sprang
from a terrace, commanding a boundless scene of towers and villas; tall
cypresses and shrubby hillocks rising, like islands, out of a sea of
corn and vine.

Evening drawing on, and the breeze blowing fresh from the distant
Adriatic, I reclined on a slope, and turned my eyes anxiously towards
Venice; then upon some little fields hemmed in by chesnuts, where the
peasants were making their hay, and, from thence, to a mountain, crowned
by a circular grove of fir and cypress.

In the centre of these shades some monks have a comfortable nest;
perennial springs, a garden of delicious vegetables, and, I dare say, a
thousand luxuries besides, which the poor mortals below never dream of.

Had it not been late, I should certainly have climbed up to the grove,
and asked admittance into its recesses; but having no mind to pass the
night in this eyrie, I contented myself with the distant prospect.



LETTER V.

     Rome.--Stroll to the Coliseo and the Palatine Mount.--A grand
     Rinfresco.--The Egyptian Lionesses.--Illuminations.


Rome, 29th June 1782.

It is needless for me to say I wish you with me: you know I do; you know
how delightfully we should ramble about Rome together. This evening,
instead of parading the Corso with the puppets in blue and silver coats,
and green and gold coaches, instead of bowing to Cardinal this, and
dotting my head to Abbè t’other, I strolled to the Coliseo and scrambled
amongst its arches. Then bending my course to the Palatine Mount, I
passed under the Arch of Titus, and gained the Capitol, which was quite
deserted, the world, thank Heaven, being all slip-slopping in
coffee-houses, or staring at a few painted boards, patched up before the
Colonna palace, where, by the by, to-night is a grand _rinfresco_ for
all the dolls and doll-fanciers of Rome. I heard their buzz at a
distance; that was enough for me!

Soothed by the rippling of waters, I descended the Capitoline stairs,
and leaned several minutes against one of the Egyptian lionesses. This
animal has no knack at oracles, or else it would have murmured out to me
the situation of that secret cave, where the wolf suckled Romulus and
his brother.

About nine, I returned home, and am now writing to you like a prophet on
the housetop. Behind me rustle the thickets of the Villa Medici; before,
lies roof beyond roof, and dome beyond dome: these are dimly discovered;
but do not you see the great cupola of cupolas, twinkling with
illuminations? The town is real, I am certain; but, surely, that
structure of fire must be visionary.



LETTER VI.

     The Negroni Garden.--Its solitary and antique appearance.--Stately
     Porticos of the Lateran.--Dreary Scene.


Rome, 30th June 1782.

As soon as the sun declined I strolled into the Villa Medici; but
finding it haunted by pompous people, nay, even by the Spanish
Ambassador, and several red-legged Cardinals, I moved off to the Negroni
garden. There I found what my soul desired, thickets of jasmine, and
wild spots overgrown with bay; long alleys of cypress totally neglected,
and almost impassable through the luxuriance of the vegetation; on every
side antique fragments, vases, sarcophagi, and altars sacred to the
Manes, in deep, shady recesses, which I am certain the Manes must love.
The air was filled with the murmurs of water, trickling down basins of
porphyry, and losing itself amongst overgrown weeds and grasses.

Above the wood and between its boughs appeared several domes, and a
strange lofty tower. I will not say they belong to St. Maria Maggiore;
no, they are fanes and porticos dedicated to Cybele, who delights in
sylvan situations. The forlorn air of this garden, with its high and
reverend shades, make me imagine it as old as the baths of Dioclesian,
which peep over one of its walls.

At the close of day, I repaired to the platform before the stately
porticos of the Lateran. There I sat, folded up in myself. Some priests
jarred the iron gates behind me. I looked over my shoulder through the
portals, into the portico. Night began to fill it with darkness. Upon
turning round, the melancholy waste of the Campagna met my eyes, and I
wished to go home, but had scarcely the power. A pressure, like that I
have felt in horrid dreams, seemed to fix me to the pavement.

I was thus in a manner forced to dwell upon the dreary scene, the long
line of aqueducts and lonesome towers. Perhaps the unwholesome vapours,
rising like blue mists from the plains, had affected me. I know not how
it was; but I never experienced such strange, such chilling terrors.
About ten o’clock, thank God, the spell dissolved, I found my limbs at
liberty, and returned home.



LETTER VII.

     Naples.--Portici.--The King’s Pagliaro and Garden.--Description of
     that pleasant spot.


Naples, July 8th, 1782.

The sea-breezes restore me to life. I set the heat of mid-day at
defiance, and do not believe in the horrors of the sirocco. I passed
yesterday at Portici, with Lady H. The morning, refreshing and pleasant,
invited us at an early hour into the open air. We drove, in an uncovered
chaise, to the royal Bosquetto: no other unroyal carriage except Sir
W.’s being allowed to enter its alleys, we breathed a fresh air,
untainted by dust or garlick. Every now and then, amidst wild bushes of
ilex and myrtle, one finds a graceful antique statue, sometimes a
fountain, and often a rude knoll, where the rabbits sit undisturbed,
contemplating the blue glittering bay.

The walls of this shady inclosure are lined with Peruvian aloes, whose
white blossoms, scented like those of the magnolia, form the most
magnificent clusters. They are plants to salute respectfully as one
passes by; such is their size and dignity. In the midst of the thickets
stands the King’s Pagliaro, in a small garden, with hedges of luxuriant
jasmine, whose branches are suffered to flaunt as much as nature
pleases.

The morning sun darted his first rays on their flowers just as I entered
this pleasant spot. The hut looks as if erected in the days of fairy
pastoral life; its neatness is quite delightful. Bright tiles compose
the floor; straw, nicely platted, covers the walls. In the middle of the
room you see a table spread with a beautiful Persian carpet; at one end,
four niches with mattresses of silk, where the King and his favourites
repose after dinner; at the other, a white marble basin. Mount a little
staircase, and you find yourself in another apartment, formed by the
roof, which being entirely composed of glistening straw, casts that
comfortable yellow glow I admire. From the windows you look into the
garden, not flourished over with parterres, but divided into plats of
fragrant herbs and flowers, with here and there a little marble table,
or basin of the purest water.

These sequestered inclosures are cultivated with the greatest care, and
so frequently watered, that I observed lettuces, and a variety of other
vegetables, as fresh as in our green England.



GRANDE CHARTREUSE.



LETTER I.

     Determination to visit the Grande Chartreuse.--Reach the Village of
     Les Echelles.--Gloomy region.--The Torrent.--Entrance of the
     Desert.--Portal of the consecrated Enclosure.--Dark Woods and
     Caverns.--Crosses.--Inscriptions.


Gray’s sublime Ode on the Grande Chartreuse had sunk so deeply into my
spirit that I could not rest in peace on the banks of the Leman Lake
till I had visited the scene from whence he caught inspiration. I longed
to penetrate these sacred precincts, to hear the language of their
falling waters, and throw myself into the gloom of their forests: no
object of a worldly nature did I allow to divert my thoughts, neither
the baths of Aix, nor the habitation of the too indulgent Madame de
Warens (held so holy by Rousseau’s worshippers), nor the magnificent
road cut by Charles Emanuel of Savoy through the heart of a rocky
mountain. All these points of attraction, so interesting to general
travellers, were lost upon me, so totally was I absorbed in the
anticipation of the pilgrimage I had undertaken.

Mr. Lettice, who shared all my sentiments of admiration for Gray, and
eagerness to explore the region he had described in his short and
masterly letters with such energy, felt the same indifference as myself
to commonplace scenery.

The twilight was beginning to prevail when we reached Les Echelles, a
miserable village, with but few of its chimneys smoking, situated at the
base of a mountain, round which had gathered a concourse of red and
greyish clouds. I was heartily glad to leave these forlorn and wretched
quarters at the first dawn of the next day. We were now obliged to
abandon our coach; and taking horse, proceeded towards the mountains,
which, with the valleys between them, form what is called the Desert of
the Carthusians.

In an hour’s time we were drawing near, and could discern the opening of
a narrow valley overhung by shaggy precipices, above which rose lofty
peaks, covered to their very summits with wood. We could now distinguish
the roar of torrents, and a confusion of strange sounds, issuing from
dark forests of pine. I confess at this moment I was somewhat startled.
I experienced some disagreeable sensations, and it was not without a
degree of unwillingness that I left the gay pastures and enlivening
sunshine, to throw myself into this gloomy and disturbed region. How
dreadful, thought I, must be the despair of those, who enter it, never
to return!

But after the first impression was worn away all my curiosity redoubled;
and desiring our guide to put forward with greater speed, we made such
good haste, that the meadows and cottages of the plain were soon left
far behind, and we found ourselves on the banks of the torrent, whose
agitation answered the ideas which its sounds had inspired. Into the
midst of these troubled waters we were obliged to plunge with our
horses, and, when landed on the opposite shore, were by no means
displeased to have passed them.

We had now closed with the forests, over which the impending rocks
diffused an additional gloom. The day grew obscured by clouds, and the
sun no longer enlightened the distant plains, when we began to ascend
towards the entrance of the desert, marked by two pinnacles of rock far
above us, beyond which a melancholy twilight prevailed. Every moment we
approached nearer and nearer to the sounds which had alarmed us; and,
suddenly emerging from the woods, we discovered several mills and
forges, with many complicated machines of iron, hanging over the
torrent, that threw itself headlong from a cleft in the precipices; on
one side of which I perceived our road winding along, till it was
stopped by a venerable gateway. A rock above one of the forges was
hollowed into the shape of a round tower, of no great size, but
resembling very much an altar in figure; and, what added greatly to the
grandeur of the object, was a livid flame continually palpitating upon
it, which the gloom of the valley rendered perfectly discernible.

The road, at a small distance from this remarkable scene, was become so
narrow, that, had my horse started, I should have been but too well
acquainted with the torrent that raged beneath; dismounting, therefore,
I walked towards the edge of the great fell, and there, leaning on a
fragment of cliff, looked down into the foaming gulph, where the waters
were hurled along over broken pines, pointed rocks, and stakes of iron.
Then, lifting up my eyes, I took in the vast extent of the forests,
frowning on the brows of the mountains.

It was here first I felt myself seized by the genius of the place, and
penetrated with veneration of its religious gloom; and, I believe,
uttered many extravagant exclamations; but, such was the dashing of the
wheels, and the rushing of the waters at the bottom of the forges, that
what I said was luckily undistinguishable.

I was not yet, however, within the consecrated enclosure, and therefore
not perfectly contented; so, leaving my fragment, I paced in silence up
the path, which led to the great portal. When we arrived before it, I
rested a moment, and looking against the stout oaken gate, which closed
up the entrance to this unknown region, felt at my heart a certain awe,
that brought to my mind the sacred terror of those, in ancient days
going to be admitted into the Eleusinian mysteries.

My guide gave two knocks; after a solemn pause, the gate was slowly
opened, and all our horses having passed through it, was again carefully
closed.

I now found myself in a narrow dell, surrounded on every side by peaks
of the mountains, rising almost beyond my sight, and shelving downwards
till their bases were hidden by the foam and spray of the water, over
which hung a thousand withered and distorted trees. The rocks seemed
crowding upon me, and, by their particular situation, threatened to
obstruct every ray of light; but, notwithstanding the menacing
appearance of the prospect, I still kept following my guide, up a craggy
ascent, partly hewn through a rock, and bordered by the trunks of
ancient fir-trees, which formed a fantastic barrier, till we came to a
dreary and exposed promontory, impending directly over the dell.

The woods are here clouded with darkness, and the torrents rushing with
additional violence are lost in the gloom of the caverns below; every
object, as I looked downwards from my path, that hung midway between the
base and the summit of the cliff, was horrid and woeful. The channel of
the torrent sunk deep amidst frightful crags, and the pale willows and
wreathed roots spreading over it, answered my ideas of those dismal
abodes, where, according to the druidical mythology, the ghosts of
conquered warriors were bound. I shivered whilst I was regarding these
regions of desolation, and, quickly lifting up my eyes to vary the
scene, I perceived a range of whitish cliffs glistening with the light
of the sun, to emerge from these melancholy forests.

On a fragment that projected over the chasm, and concealed for a moment
its terrors, I saw a cross, on which was written VIA COELI. The cliffs
being the heaven to which I now aspired, we deserted the edge of the
precipice, and ascending, came to a retired nook of the rocks, in which
several copious rills had worn irregular grottoes. Here we reposed an
instant, and were enlivened with a few sunbeams, piercing the thickets
and gilding the waters that bubbled from the rock, over which hung
another cross, inscribed with this short sentence, which the situation
rendered wonderfully pathetic, O SPES UNICA! the fervent exclamation of
some wretch disgusted with the world whose only consolation was found in
this retirement.



LETTER II.

     Thick forest of beech trees.--Fearful glimpses of the
     torrent.--Throne of Moses.--Lofty bridge.--Distant view of the
     Convent.--Profound calm.--Enter the convent gate.--Arched
     aisle.--Welcomed by the father Coadjutor.--The Secretary and
     Procurator.--Conversation with them.--A walk amongst the cloisters
     and galleries.--Pictures of different Convents of the order.--Grand
     Hall adorned with historical paintings of St. Bruno’s life.


We quitted this solitary cross to enter a thick forest of beech trees,
that screened in some measure the precipices on which they grew,
catching however every instant terrifying glimpses of the torrent below.
Streams gushed from every crevice in the cliffs, and falling over the
mossy roots and branches of the beech, hastened to join the great
torrent, athwart which I every now and then remarked certain tottering
bridges, and sometimes could distinguish a Carthusian crossing over to
his hermitage, that just peeped above the woody labyrinths on the
opposite shore.

Whilst I was proceeding amongst the innumerable trunks of the beech
trees, my guide pointed out to me a peak, rising above the others, which
he called the Throne of Moses. If that prophet had received his
revelations in this desert, no voice need have declared it holy ground,
for every part of it is stamped with such a sublimity of character as
would alone be sufficient to impress the idea.

Having left these woods behind, and crossing a bridge of many lofty
arches, I shuddered once more at the impetuosity of the torrent; and,
mounting still higher, came at length to a kind of platform before two
cliffs, joined by an arch of rock, under which we were to pursue our
road. Below we beheld again innumerable streams, turbulently
precipitating themselves from the woods and lashing the base of the
mountains, mossed over with a dark sea green.

In this deep hollow such mists and vapours prevailed as hindered my
prying into its recesses; besides, such was the dampness of the air,
that I hastened gladly from its neighbourhood, and passing under the
second portal beheld with pleasure the sunbeams gilding the throne of
Moses.

It was now about ten o’clock, and my guide assured me I should soon
discover the convent. Upon this information I took new courage, and
continued my route on the edge of the rocks, till we struck into another
gloomy grove. After turning about it for some time, we entered again
into the glare of daylight, and saw a green valley skirted by ridges of
cliffs and sweeps of wood before us. Towards the farther end of this
inclosure, on a gentle acclivity, rose the revered turrets of the
Carthusians, which extend in a long line on the brow of the hill; beyond
them a woody amphitheatre majestically presents itself, terminated by
spires of rock and promontories lost amongst the clouds.

The roar of the torrent was now but faintly distinguishable, and all the
scenes of horror and confusion I had passed were succeeded by a sacred
and profound calm. I traversed the valley with a thousand sensations I
despair of describing, and stood before the gate of the convent with as
much awe as some novice or candidate newly arrived to solicit the holy
retirement of the order.

As admittance is more readily granted to the English than to almost any
other nation, it was not long before the gates opened, and whilst the
porter ordered our horses to the stable, we entered a court watered by
two fountains and built round with lofty edifices, characterized by a
noble simplicity.

The interior portal opening discovered an arched aisle, extending till
the perspective nearly met, along which windows, but scantily
distributed between the pilasters, admitted a pale solemn light, just
sufficient to distinguish the objects with a picturesque uncertainty. We
had scarcely set our feet on the pavement when the monks began to issue
from an arch, about half way down, and passing in a long succession from
their chapel, bowed reverently with much humility and meekness, and
dispersed in silence, leaving one of their body alone in the aisle.

The father Coadjutor (for he only remained) advanced towards us with
great courtesy, and welcomed us in a manner which gave me far more
pleasure than all the frivolous salutations and affected greetings so
common in the world beneath. After asking us a few indifferent
questions, he called one of the lay brothers, who live in the convent
under less severe restrictions than the fathers, whom they serve, and
ordering him to prepare our apartment, conducted us to a large square
hall with casement windows, and, what was more comfortable, an enormous
chimney, whose hospitable hearth blazed with a fire of dry aromatic fir,
on each side of which were two doors that communicated with the neat
little cells destined for our bed-chambers.

Whilst he was placing us round the fire, a ceremony by no means
unimportant in the cold climate of these upper regions, a bell rang
which summoned him to prayers. After charging the lay brother to set
before us the best fare their desert afforded, he retired, and left us
at full liberty to examine our chambers.

The weather lowered, and the casements permitted very little light to
enter the apartment: but on the other side it was amply enlivened by the
gleams of the fire, that spread all over a certain comfortable air,
which even sunshine but rarely diffuses. Whilst the showers descended
with great violence, the lay brother and another of his companions were
placing an oval table, very neatly carved and covered with the finest
linen, in the middle of the hall; and, before we had examined a number
of portraits which were hung in all the panels of the wainscot, they
called us to a dinner widely different from what might have been
expected in so dreary a situation. Our attendant friar was helping us to
some Burgundy, of the happiest growth and vintage, when the coadjutor
returned, accompanied by two other fathers, the secretary and
procurator, whom he presented to us. You would have been both charmed
and surprised with the cheerful resignation that appeared in their
countenances, and with the easy turn of their conversation.

The coadjutor, though equally kind, was as yet more reserved: his
countenance, however, spoke for him without the aid of words, and there
was in his manner a mixture of dignity and humility, which could not
fail to interest. There were moments when the recollection of some past
event seemed to shade his countenance with a melancholy that rendered it
still more affecting. I should suspect he formerly possessed a great
share of natural vivacity (something of it being still, indeed, apparent
in his more unguarded moments); but this spirit is almost entirely
subdued by the penitence and mortification of the order.

The secretary displayed a very considerable share of knowledge in the
political state of Europe, furnished probably by the extensive
correspondence these fathers preserve with the three hundred and sixty
subordinate convents, dispersed throughout all those countries where the
court of Rome still maintains its influence.

In the course of our conversation they asked me innumerable questions
about England, where formerly, they said, many monasteries had belonged
to their order; and principally that of Witham, which they had learnt to
be now in my possession.

The secretary, almost with tears in his eyes, beseeched me to revere
these consecrated edifices, and to preserve their remains, for the sake
of St. Hugo, their canonized prior. I replied greatly to his
satisfaction, and then declaimed so much in favour of St. Bruno, and the
holy prior of Witham, that the good fathers grew exceedingly delighted
with the conversation, and made me promise to remain some days with
them. I readily complied with their request, and, continuing in the same
strain, that had so agreeably affected their ears, was soon presented
with the works of St. Bruno, whom I so zealously admired.

After we had sat extolling them, and talking upon much the same sort of
subjects for about an hour, the coadjutor proposed a walk amongst the
cloisters and galleries, as the weather would not admit of any longer
excursion. He leading the way, we ascended a flight of steps, which
brought us to a gallery, on each side of which a vast number of
pictures, representing the dependent convents, were ranged; for I was
now in the capital of the order, where the general resides, and from
whence he issues forth his commands to his numerous subjects; who depute
the superiors of their respective convents, whether situated in the
wilds of Calabria, the forests of Poland, or in the remotest districts
of Portugal and Spain, to assist at the grand chapter, held annually
under him, a week or two after Easter.

This reverend father died about ten days before our arrival: a week ago
they elected the prior of the Carthusian convent at Paris in his room,
and two fathers were now on their route to apprise him of their choice,
and to salute him General of the Carthusians. During this interregnum
the coadjutor holds the first rank in the temporal, and the grand
vicaire in the spiritual affairs of the order; both of which are very
extensive.

If I may judge from the representation of the different convents, which
adorn this gallery, there are many highly worthy of notice, for the
singularity of their situations, and the wild beauties of the landscapes
which surround them. The Venetian Chartreuse, placed in a woody island;
and that of Rome, rising from amongst groups of majestic ruins, struck
me as peculiarly pleasing. Views of the English monasteries hung
formerly in such a gallery, but had been destroyed by fire, together
with the old convent. The list only remains, with but a very few written
particulars concerning them.

Having amused myself for some time with the pictures, and the
descriptions the coadjutor gave me of them, we quitted the gallery and
entered a kind of chapel, in which were two altars with lamps burning
before them, on each side of a lofty portal. This opened into a grand
coved hall, adorned with historical paintings of St. Bruno’s life, and
the portraits of the generals of the order, since the year of the great
founder’s death (1085) to the present time. Under these portraits are
the stalls for the superiors, who assist at the grand convocation. In
front, appears the general’s throne; above, hangs a representation of
the canonized Bruno, crowned with stars.



LETTER III.

     Cloisters of extraordinary dimensions.--Cells of the
     Monks.--Severity of the order.--Death-like calm.--The great
     Chapel.--Its interior.--Marvellous events relating to St.
     Bruno.--Retire to my cell.--Strange writings of St. Bruno.--Sketch
     of his Life.--Appalling occurrence.--Vision of the Bishop of
     Grenoble.--First institution of the Carthusian order.--Death of St.
     Bruno.--His translation.


The coadjutor seemed charmed with the respect with which I looked round
on these holy objects; and if the hour of vespers had not been drawing
near, we should have spent more time in the contemplation of Bruno’s
miracles, pourtrayed on the lower panels of the hall. We left that room
to enter a winding passage (lighted by windows in the roof) that brought
us to a cloister six hundred feet in length, from which branched off two
others, joining a fourth of the same most extraordinary dimensions. Vast
ranges of slender pillars extend round the different courts of the
edifice, many of which are thrown into gardens belonging to particular
cells.

We entered one of them: its inhabitant received us with much civility,
walked before us through a little corridor that looked on his garden,
showed us his narrow dwelling, and, having obtained leave of the
coadjutor to speak, gave us his benediction, and beheld us depart with
concern. Nature has given this poor monk very considerable talents for
painting. He has drawn the portrait of the late General, in a manner
that discovers great facility of execution; but he is not allowed to
exercise his pencil on any other subject, lest he should be amused; and
amusement in this severe order is a crime. He had so subdued, so
mortified an appearance, that I was not sorry to hear the bell, which
summoned the coadjutor to prayers, and prevented my entering any more of
the cells. We continued straying from cloister to cloister, and
wandering along the winding passages and intricate galleries of this
immense edifice, whilst the coadjutor was assisting at vespers.

In every part of the structure reigned the most death-like calm: no
sound reached my ears but the “minute drops from off the eaves.” I sat
down in a niche of the cloister, and fell into a profound reverie, from
which I was recalled by the return of our conductor; who, I believe, was
almost tempted to imagine, from the cast of my countenance, that I was
deliberating whether I should not remain with them for ever.

But I soon roused myself, and testified some impatience to see the great
chapel, at which we at length arrived after traversing another labyrinth
of cloisters. The gallery immediately before its entrance appeared quite
gay, in comparison with the others I had passed, and owes its
cheerfulness to a large window (ornamented with slabs of polished
marble) that admits the view of a lovely wood, and allows a full blaze
of light to dart on the chapel door; which is also adorned with marble,
in a plain but noble style of architecture.

The father sacristan stood ready on the steps of the portal to grant us
admittance; and, throwing open the valves, we entered the chapel and
were struck by the justness of its proportions, the simple majesty of
the arched roof, and the mild solemn light equally diffused over every
part of the edifice. No tawdry ornaments, no glaring pictures disgraced
the sanctity of the place. The high altar, standing distinct from the
walls, which were hung with a rich velvet, was the only object on which
many ornaments were lavished; and, it being a high festival, was
clustered with statues of gold, shrines, and candelabra of the
stateliest shape and most delicate execution. Four of the latter, of a
gigantic size, were placed on the steps; which, together with part of
the inlaid floor within the choir, were spread with beautiful carpets.

The illumination of so many tapers striking on the shrines, censers, and
pillars of polished jasper, sustaining the canopy of the altar, produced
a wonderful effect; and, as the rest of the chapel was visible only by
the feint external light admitted from above, the splendour and dignity
of the altar was enhanced by contrast. I retired a moment from it, and
seating myself in one of the furthermost stalls of the choir, looked
towards it, and fancied the whole structure had risen by “subtle magic,”
like an exhalation.

Here I remained several minutes breathing nothing but incense, and
should not have quitted my station soon, had I not been apprehensive of
disturbing the devotions of two aged fathers who had just entered, and
were prostrating themselves before the steps of the altar. These
venerable figures added greatly to the solemnity of the scene; which as
the day declined increased every moment in splendour; for the sparkling
of several lamps of chased silver that hung from the roofs, and the
gleaming of nine huge tapers which I had not before noticed, began to be
visible just as I left the chapel.

Passing through the sacristy, where lay several piles of rich
embroidered vestments, purposely displayed for our inspection, we
regained the cloister which led to our apartment, where the supper was
ready prepared. We had scarcely finished it, when the coadjutor, and the
fathers who had accompanied us before, returned, and ranging themselves
round the fire, resumed the conversation about St. Bruno.

Finding me disposed by the wonders I had seen in the day to listen to
things of a miraculous nature, they began to relate the inspirations
they had received from him, and his mysterious apparitions. I was all
attention, respect, and credulity. The old secretary worked himself up
to such a pitch of enthusiasm, that I am very much inclined to imagine
he believed in these moments all the marvellous events he related. The
coadjutor being less violent in his pretensions to St. Bruno’s modern
miracles, contented himself with enumerating the noble works he had done
in the days of his fathers, and in the old time before them.

It grew rather late before my kind hosts had finished their narrations,
and I was not sorry, after all the exercise I had taken, to return to my
cell, where everything invited to repose. I was charmed with the
neatness and oddity of my little apartment; its cabin-like bed, oratory,
and ebony crucifix; in short, every thing it contained; not forgetting
the aromatic odour of the pine, with which it was roofed, floored, and
wainscoted. The night was luckily dark. Had the moon appeared, I could
not have prevailed upon myself to have quitted her till very late; but,
as it happened, I crept into my cabin, and was by “whispering winds soon
lulled asleep.”

Eight o’clock struck next morning before I awoke; when, to my great
sorrow, I found the peaks, which rose above the convent, veiled in
vapours, and the rain descending with violence.

After we had breakfasted by the light of our fire (for the casements
admitted but a very feeble gleam), I sat down to the works of St.
Bruno; of all medleys one of the strangest. Allegories without end; a
theologico-natural history of birds, beasts, and fishes; several
chapters on paradise; the delights of solitude; the glory of Solomon’s
temple; the new Jerusalem; and numberless other wonderful subjects, full
of the loftiest enthusiasm. The revered author of this strangely
abstruse and mystic volume was certainly a being of no common order, nor
do we find in the wide circle of legendary traditions an event recorded,
better calculated to inspire the utmost degree of religious terror than
that which determined him to the monastic state.

St. Bruno was of noble descent, and possessed considerable wealth. Not
less remarkable for the qualities of his mind, their assiduous
cultivation obtained for him the chair of master of the great sciences
in the University of Rheims, where he contracted an intimate friendship
with Odo, afterwards Pope Urban II. Though it appears that a very
cheering degree of public approbation, and all the blandishments of a
society highly polished for the period, contributed, not unprofitably
one should think, to fill up his time, always singular, always
visionary, he began early in life to loathe the world, and sigh after
retirement.

But a most appalling occurrence converted these sighs into the deepest
groans. A man, who had borne the highest character for the exercise of
every virtue, died, and was being carried to the grave. The procession,
of which Bruno formed a part, was moving slowly on, when a low, mournful
sound issued from the bier. The corpse was distinctly seen to lift up
its ghastly countenance, and as distinctly heard to articulate these
words--“_I am summoned to trial._” After an agonizing pause, the same
terrific voice declared--“_I stand before the tribunal._” Some further
moments of amazement and horror having elapsed, the dead body lifted
itself up a third time, and moving its livid lips uttered forth this
dreadful sentence--“_I am condemned by the just judgment of God._”
“Alas! alas!” exclaimed Bruno--“of how little avail are apparent good
works, or the favourable opinion of mankind!

    Ubi fugiam nisi ad te?--

Thy mercies alone can save, and it is not in the frivolous and seductive
intercourse of a worldly life those mercies can be obtained.”

Stricken to the heart by these reflections, he hurried in a fever of
terror and alarm (the sepulchral voice still ringing in his ears) to
Grenoble, of which see one of his dearest friends, the venerable Hugo,
had lately been appointed bishop.

This saintly prelate soothed the dreadful agitation of his spirits by
relating to him a revelation he had just received in a dream.

“As I slept,” said Hugo, “methought the desert mountains beyond Grenoble
became suddenly visible in the dead of night by the streaming of seven
lucid stars which hung directly over them. Whilst I remained absorbed in
the contemplation of this wonder, an awful voice seemed to break the
nocturnal silence, declaring their dreary solitudes thy future abode, O
Bruno!--by thee to be consecrated as a retirement for holy men desirous
of holding converse with their God. No shepherd’s pipe shall be heard
within these precincts; no huntsman’s profane feet ever invade their
fastnesses; nor shall woman ascend this mountain, or violate by her
allurements the sacred repose of its inhabitants.”

Such were the first institutions of the order as the inspired Bishop of
Grenoble delivered them to Bruno, who selecting a few persons that,
like himself, contemned the splendours of the world and the charms of
society, repaired with them to this spot; and, in the darkest parts of
the forests which shade the most gloomy recesses of the mountains,
founded the first convent of Carthusians, long since destroyed.

Several years passed away, whilst Bruno was employed in actions of the
most exalted piety; and, the fame of his exemplary conduct reaching
Rome, (where his friend had been lately invested with the papal tiara,)
the whole conclave was desirous of seeing him, and entreated Urban to
invite him to Rome. The request of Christ’s vicegerent was not to be
refused; and Bruno quitted his beloved solitude, leaving some of his
disciples behind, who propagated his doctrines, and tended zealously the
infant order.

The pomp of the Roman court soon disgusted the rigid Bruno, who had
weaned himself entirely from worldly affections.

Being wholly intent on futurity, the bustle and tumults of a busy
metropolis became so irksome that he supplicated Urban for leave to
retire; and, having obtained it, left Rome, and immediately seeking the
wilds of Calabria, there sequestered himself in a lonely hermitage,
calmly expecting his last moments.

In his death there was no bitterness. A celestial radiance shone around
him even before he closed his eyes upon this frail existence, and many a
venerable witness has testified that the voices of angelic beings were
heard calling him to come and receive his reward; but as the different
accounts of his translation are not essentially varied, it would be
tedious to recite them.



LETTER IV.

     Mystic discourse.--A mountain ramble.--A benevolent Hermit.--Red
     light in the northern sky.--Lose my way in the solitary
     hills.--Approach of night.


I had scarcely finished taking extracts from the writings of this holy
and highly-gifted personage when the dinner appeared, consisting of
everything most delicate which a strict adherence to the rules of meagre
could allow. The good fathers returned as usual before our repast was
half over, and resumed as usual their mystic discourse, looking all the
time rather earnestly into my countenance to observe the sort of effect
their most marvellous narrations produced upon it.

Our conversation, which was beginning to take a gloomy and serious turn,
was interrupted, I thought very agreeably, by the sudden intrusion of
the sun, which, escaping from the clouds, shone in full splendour above
the highest peak of the mountains, and the vapours fleeting by degrees
discovered the woods in all the freshness of their verdure. The pleasure
I received from seeing this new creation rising to view was very lively,
and, as the fathers assured me the humidity of their walks did not often
continue longer than the showers, I left my hall.

Crossing the court, I hastened out of the gates, and running swiftly
along a winding path on the side of the meadow, bordered by the forests,
enjoyed the charms of the prospect inhaled the perfume of the woodlands,
and now turning towards the summits of the precipices that encircled
this sacred inclosure, admired the glowing colours they borrowed from
the sun, contrasted by the dark hues of the forest. Now, casting my eyes
below, I suffered them to roam from valley to valley, and from one
stream (beset with tall pines and tufted beech trees) to another. The
purity of the air in these exalted regions, and the lightness of my own
spirits, almost seized me with the idea of treading in that element.

Not content with the distant beauties of the hanging rocks and falling
waters, I still kept running wildly along, with an eagerness and
rapidity that, to a sober spectator, would have given me the appearance
of one possessed, and with reason, for I was affected with the scene to
a degree I despair of expressing.

Whilst I was continuing my course, pursued by a thousand strange ideas,
a father, who was returning from some distant hermitage, stopped my
career, and made signs for me to repose myself on a bench erected under
a neighbouring shed; and, perceiving my agitation and disordered looks,
fancied, I believe, that one of the bears that lurk near the snows of
the mountains had alarmed me by his sudden appearance.

The good old man, expressing by his gestures that he wished me to
recover myself in quiet on the bench, hastened, with as much alacrity as
his age permitted, to a cottage adjoining the shed, and returning in a
few moments, presented me some water in a wooden bowl, into which he let
fall several drops of an elixir composed of innumerable herbs, and
having performed this deed of charity, signified to me by a look, in
which benevolence, compassion, and perhaps some little remains of
curiosity were strongly painted, how sorry he was to be restrained by
his vow of silence from enquiring into the cause of my agitation, and
giving me farther assistance. I answered also by signs, on purpose to
carry on the adventure, and suffered him to depart with all his
conjectures unsatisfied.

No sooner had I lost sight of the benevolent hermit than I started up,
and pursued my path with my former agility, till I came to the edge of a
woody dell, that divided the meadow on which I was running from the
opposite promontory. Here I paused, and looking up at the cliffs, now
but faintly illumined by the sun, which had been some time sinking on
our narrow horizon, reflected that it would be madness to bewilder
myself, at so late an hour, in the mazes of the forest. Being thus
determined, I abandoned with regret the idea of penetrating into the
lovely region before me, and contented myself for some moments with
marking the pale tints of the evening gradually overspreading the
cliffs, so lately flushed with the gleams of the setting sun.

But my eyes were soon diverted from contemplating these objects by a red
light streaming over the northern sky, which attracted my notice as I
sat on the brow of a sloping hill, looking down what appeared to be a
fathomless ravine blackened by the shade of impervious forests, above
which rose majestically the varied peaks and promontories of the
mountains.

The upland lawns, which hang at immense heights above the vale, next
caught my attention. I was gazing alternately at them and the valley,
when a long succession of light misty clouds, of strange fantastic
shapes, issuing from a narrow gully between the rocks, passed on, like a
solemn procession, over the hollow dale, midway between the stream that
watered it below, and the summits of the cliffs on high.

The tranquillity of the region, the verdure of the lawn, environed by
girdles of flourishing wood, and the lowing of the distant herds, filled
me with the most pleasing sensations. But when I lifted up my eyes to
the towering cliffs, and beheld the northern sky streaming with ruddy
light, and the long succession of misty forms hovering over the space
beneath, they became sublime and awful. The dews which began to descend,
and the vapours which were rising from every dell, reminded me of the
lateness of the hour; and it was with great reluctance that I turned
from the scene which had so long engaged my contemplation, and traversed
slowly and silently the solitary meadows, over which I had hurried with
such eagerness an hour ago.

Hill appeared after hill, and hillock succeeded hillock, which I had
passed unnoticed before. Sometimes I imagined myself following a
different path from that which had brought me to the edge of the deep
valley. Another moment, descending into the hollows between the hillocks
that concealed the distant prospects from my sight, I fancied I had
entirely mistaken my route, and expected every moment to be lost amongst
the rude brakes and tangled thickets that skirted the eminences around.

As the darkness increased, my situation became still more and more
forlorn. I had almost abandoned the idea of reaching the convent; and
whenever I gained any swelling ground, looked above, below, and on every
side of me, in hopes of discovering some glimmering lamp which might
indicate a hermitage, whose charitable possessor, I flattered myself,
would direct me to the monastery.

At length, after a tedious wandering along the hills, I found myself,
unexpectedly, under the convent walls; and, as I was looking for the
gate, the attendant lay-brothers came out with lights, in order to
search for me; scarcely had I joined them, when the Coadjutor and the
Secretary came forward, with the kindest anxiety expressed their
uneasiness at my long absence, and conducted me to my apartment, where
Mr. Lettice was waiting, with no small degree of impatience; but I found
not a word had been mentioned of my adventure with the hermit; so that,
I believe, he strictly kept his vow till the day when the Carthusians
are allowed to speak, and which happened after my departure.



LETTER V.

     Pastoral Scenery of Valombré.--Ascent of the highest Peak in the
     Desert.--Grand amphitheatre of Mountains.--Farewell benediction of
     the Fathers.


We had hardly supped before the gates of the convent were shut, a
circumstance which disconcerted me not a little, as the full moon
gleamed through the casements, and the stars sparkling above the forests
of pines, invited me to leave my apartment again, and to give myself up
entirely to the spectacle they offered.

The coadjutor, perceiving that I was often looking earnestly through the
windows, guessed my wishes, and calling a lay-brother, ordered him to
open the gates, and wait at them till my return. It was not long before
I took advantage of this permission, and escaping from the courts and
cloisters of the monastery, all hushed in death-like stillness, ascended
a green knoll, which several ancient pines strongly marked with their
shadows: there, leaning against one of their trunks, I lifted up my eyes
to the awful barrier of surrounding mountains, discovered by the
trembling silver light of the moon shooting directly on the woods which
fringed their acclivities.

The lawns, the vast woods, the steep descents, the precipices, the
torrents, lay all extended beneath, softened by a pale blueish haze,
that alleviated, in some measure, the stern prospect of the rocky
promontories above, wrapped in dark shadows. The sky was of the deepest
azure, innumerable stars were distinguished with unusual clearness from
this elevation, many of which twinkled behind the fir-trees edging the
promontories. White, grey, and darkish clouds came marching towards the
moon, that shone full against a range of cliffs, which lift themselves
far above the others. The hoarse murmur of the torrent, throwing itself
from the distant wildernesses into the gloomy vales, was mingled with
the blast that blew from the mountains.

It increased. The forests began to wave, black clouds rose from the
north, and, as they fleeted along, approached the moon, whose light
they shortly extinguished. A moment of darkness succeeded; the gust was
chill and melancholy; it swept along the desert, and then subsiding, the
vapours began to pass away, and the moon returned; the grandeur of the
scene was renewed, and its imposing solemnity was increased by her
presence. Inspiration was in every wind.

I followed some impulse which drove me to the summit of the mountains
before me; and there, casting a look on the whole extent of wild woods
and romantic precipices, thought of the days of St. Bruno. I eagerly
contemplated every rock that formerly might have met his eyes; drank of
the spring which tradition says he was wont to drink of; and ran to
every pine, whose withered appearance bespoke the most remote antiquity,
and beneath which, perhaps, the saint had reposed himself, when worn
with vigils, or possessed with the sacred spirit of his institutions. It
was midnight before I returned to the convent and retired to my quiet
chamber, but my imagination was too much disturbed, and my spirits far
too active, to allow me any rest for some time.

I had scarcely fallen asleep, when I was suddenly awakened by a furious
blast, which drove open my casement, for it was a troubled and
tempestuous night, and let in the roar of the tempest. In the intervals
of the storm, in those moments when the winds seemed to pause, the faint
sounds of the choir stole upon my ear; but were swallowed up the next
instant by the redoubled fury of the gust, which was still increased by
the roar of the waters.

I started from my bed, closed the casement, and composed myself as well
as I was able; but no sooner had the sunbeams entered my window, than I
arose, and gladly leaving my cell, hastened to the same knoll, where I
had stood the night before. The storm was dissipated, and the pure
morning air delightfully refreshing: every tree, every shrub, glistened
with dew. A gentle wind breathed upon the woods, and waved the fir-trees
on the cliffs, which, free from clouds, rose distinctly into the clear
blue sky. I strayed from the knoll into the valley between the steeps of
wood and the turrets of the convent, and passed the different buildings,
destined for the manufacture of the articles necessary to the fathers;
for nothing is worn or used within this inclosure, which comes from the
profane world.

Traversing the meadows and a succession of little dells, where I was so
lately bewildered, I came to a bridge thrown over the torrent, which I
crossed; and here followed a slight path that brought me to an eminence,
covered with a hanging wood of beech-trees feathered to the ground, from
whence I looked down the narrow pass towards Grenoble. Perceiving a
smoke to arise from the groves which nodded over the eminence, I climbed
up a rocky steep, and, after struggling through a thicket of shrubs,
entered a smooth, sloping lawn, framed in by woody precipices; at one
extremity of which I discovered the cottage, whose smoke had directed me
to this sequestered spot; and, at the other, a numerous group of cattle,
lying under the shade of some beech-trees, whilst several friars, with
long beards and russet garments, were employed in milking them.

The luxuriant foliage of the woods, clinging round the steeps that
skirted the lawn; its gay, sunny exposition; the groups of sleek,
dappled cows, and the odd employment of the friars, so little consonant
with their venerable beards, formed a picturesque and certainly very
singular spectacle. I, who had been accustomed to behold “milk-maids
singing blithe,” and tripping lightly along with their pails, was not a
little surprised at the silent gravity with which these figures shifted
their trivets from cow to cow; and it was curious to see with what
adroitness they performed their functions, managing their long beards
with a facility and cleanliness equally admirable.

I watched all their movements for some time, concealed by the trees,
before I made myself visible; but no sooner did I appear on the lawn,
than one of the friars quitted his trivet, very methodically set down
his pail, and coming towards me with an open, smiling countenance,
desired me to refresh myself with some bread and milk. A second,
observing what was going forward, was resolved not to be exceeded in an
hospitable act, and, quitting his pail too, hastened into the woods,
from whence he returned in a few minutes with some strawberries, very
neatly enveloped in fresh leaves. These hospitable, milking fathers,
next invited me to the cottage, whither I declined going, as I preferred
the shade of the beeches; so, throwing myself on the dry aromatic
herbage, I enjoyed the pastoral character of the scene with all possible
glee.

Not a cloud darkened the heavens; every object smiled; innumerable gaudy
flies glanced in the sunbeams that played in a clear spring by the
cottage; I saw with pleasure the sultry glow of the distant cliffs and
forests, whilst indolently reclined in the shade, listening to the
summer hum; one hour passed after another neglected away, during my
repose in this most delightful of valleys.

When I returned unwillingly to the convent, the only topic on which I
could converse was the charms of Valombré, for so is this beautifully
wooded region most appropriately called. Notwithstanding the
indifference with which I now regarded the prospects that surrounded the
monastery, I could not disdain an offer made by one of the friars, of
conducting me to the summit of the highest peak in the desert.

Pretty late in the afternoon I set out with my guide, and, following his
steps through many forests of pine, and wild apertures among them,
strewed with fragments, arrived at a chapel, built on a mossy rock, and
dedicated to St. Bruno.

Having once more drunk of the spring that issues from the rock on which
this edifice is raised, I moved forward, keeping my eyes fixed on a
lofty green mountain, from whence rises a vast cliff, spiring up to a
surprising elevation; and which (owing to the sun’s reflection on a
transparent mist hovering around it) was tinged with a pale visionary
light. This object was the goal to which I aspired; and redoubling my
activity, I made the best of my way over rude ledges of rocks, and
crumbled fragments of the mountain interspersed with firs, till I came
to the green steeps I had surveyed at a distance.

These I ascended with some difficulty, and, leaving a few scattered
beech-trees behind, in full leaf, shortly bade adieu to summer, and
entered the regions of spring; for, as I approached that part of the
mountain next the summit, the trees, which I found there rooted in the
crevices, were but just beginning to unfold their leaves, and every spot
of the greensward was covered with cowslips and violets.

After taking a few moments’ repose, my guide prepared to clamber amongst
the rocks, and I followed him with as much alertness as I was able, till
laying hold of the trunk of a withered pine, we sprang upon a small
level space, where I seated myself, and beheld far beneath me the vast
desert and dreary solitudes, amongst which appeared, thinly scattered,
the green meadows and hanging lawns. The eye next overlooking the
barrier of mountains, ranged through immense tracts of distant
countries; the plains where Lyons is situated; the woodlands and lakes
of Savoy; amongst which that of Bourget was near enough to discover its
beauties, all glowing with the warm haze of the setting sun.

My situation was too dizzy to allow a long survey, so turning my eyes
from the terrific precipice, I gladly beheld an opening in the rocks,
through which we passed into a little irregular glen of the smoothest
greensward, closed in on one side by the great peak, and on the others
by a ridge of sharp pinnacles, which crown the range of white cliffs I
had so much admired the night before, when brightened by the moon.

The singular situation of this romantic spot invited me to remain in it
till the sun was about to sink on the horizon: during which time I
visited every little cave delved in the ridges of rock, and gathered
large sprigs of the mezereon and rhododendron in full bloom, which with
a surprising variety of other plants carpeted this lovely glen. A
luxuriant vegetation,

    That on the green turf suck’d the honey’d showers,
    And purpled all the ground with vernal flowers.

My guide, perceiving I was ready to mount still higher, told me it would
be in vain, as the beds of snow that lie eternally in some fissures of
the mountain, must necessarily impede my progress; but, finding I was
very unwilling to abandon the enterprise, he showed me a few notches in
the peak, by which we might ascend, though not without danger. This
prospect rather abated my courage, and the wind rising, drove several
thick clouds round the bottom of the peak, which increasing every
minute, shortly skreened the green mountain and all the forest from our
sight. A sea of vapours soon undulated beneath my feet, and lightning
began to flash from a dark angry cloud that hung over the valleys and
deluged them with storms, whilst I was securely standing under the clear
expanse of æther.

But the hour did not admit of my remaining long in this proud station;
so descending, I was soon obliged to pass through the vapours, and,
carefully following my guide (for a false step might have caused my
destruction) wound amongst the declivities, till we left the peak
behind, and just as we reached the green mountain which was moistened
with the late storm, the clouds fleeted and the evening recovered its
serenity.

Leaving the chapel of St. Bruno on the right, we entered the woods, and
soon emerged from them into a large pasture, under the grand
amphitheatre of mountains, having a gentle ascent before us, beyond
which appeared the neat blue roofs and glittering spires of the convent,
where we arrived as the moon was beginning to assume her empire.

I need not say I rested well after the interesting fatigues of the day.
The next morning early, I quitted my kind hosts with great reluctance.
The coadjutor and two other fathers accompanied me to the outward gate,
and there within the solemn circle of the desert bestowed on me their
benediction.

It seemed indeed to come from their hearts, nor would they leave me till
I was an hundred paces from the convent; and then, laying their hands on
their breasts, declared that if ever I was disgusted with the world,
here was an asylum.

I was in a melancholy mood when I traced back all the windings of my
road, and when I found myself beyond the last gate in the midst of the
wide world again, it increased.

We returned to Les Echelles; from thence to Chambery, and, instead of
going through Aix, passed by Annecy; but nothing in all the route
engaged my attention, nor had I any pleasing sensations till I beheld
the glassy lake of Geneva, and its lovely environs.

I rejoiced then because I knew of a retirement on its banks where I
could sit and think of Valombré.



SALEVE.



LETTER I.

     Revisit the trees on the summit of Saleve.--Pas
     d’Echelle.--Moneti.--Bird’s-eye prospects.--Alpine
     flowers.--Extensive view from the summit of Saleve.--Youthful
     enthusiasm.--Sad realities.


I had long wished to revisit the holt of trees so conspicuous on the
summit of Saleve, and set forth this morning to accomplish that purpose.
Brandoin an artist, once the delight of our travelling lords and ladies,
accompanied me. We rode pleasantly and sketchingly along through Carouge
to the base of the mountain, taking views every now and then of
picturesque stumps and cottages.

At length, after a good deal of lackadaisical loitering on the banks of
the Arve, we reached a sort of goats’ path, leading to some steps cut
in the rock, and justly called the Pas d’Echelle. I need not say we were
obliged to dismount and toil up this ladder, beyond which rise steeps of
verdure shaded by walnuts.

These brought us to Moneti, a rude straggling village, with its church
tower embosomed in gigantic limes. We availed ourselves of their deep
cool shade to dine as comfortably as a whole posse of withered hags, who
seemed to have been just alighted from their broomsticks, would allow
us.

About half past three, a sledge drawn by four oxen was got ready to drag
us up to the holt of trees, the goal to which we were tending:
stretching ourselves on the straw spread over our vehicle, we set off
along a rugged path, conducted aslant the steep slope of the mountain,
vast prospects opening as we ascended; to our right the crags of the
little Saleve--the variegated plains of Gex and Chablais, separated by
the lake; below, Moneti, almost concealed in wood; behind, the mole,
lifting up its pyramidical summit amidst the wild amphitheatre of
glaciers, which lay this evening in dismal shadow, the sun being
overcast, the Jura half lost in rainy mists, and a heavy storm
darkening the Fort de l’Ecluse. Except a sickly gleam cast on the snows
of the Buet, not a ray of sunshine enlivened our landscape.

This sorrowful colouring agreed but too well with the dejection of my
spirits. I suffered melancholy recollections to take full possession of
me, and glancing my eyes over the vast map below, sought out those spots
where I had lived so happy with my lovely Margaret. On them did I
eagerly gaze--absorbed in the consciousness of a fatal, irreparable
loss, I little noticed the transports expressed by my companion at the
grand effects of light and shade, which obeyed the movements of the
clouds; nor was I more attentive to the route of our oxen, which,
perfectly familiarized with precipices, preferred their edge to the bank
on the other side, and by this choice gave us an opportunity of looking
down more than a thousand feet perpendicularly on the wild shrubberies
and shattered rocks deep below, at the base of the mountain. In general
I shrink back from such bird’s-eye prospects with my head in a whirl,
and yet, by a most unaccountable fascination, feel a feverish impulse
to throw myself into the very gulph I abhor; but to-day I lay in passive
indifference, listlessly extended on our moving bed.

Its progress being extremely deliberate, we had leisure to observe, as
we crept along, a profusion of Alpine flowers; but none of those
gorgeous insects mentioned by Saussure as abounding on Saleve were
fluttering about them. This was no favourable day for butterfly
excursions; the flowers laden with heavy drops, the forerunners of still
heavier rain, hung down their heads. We passed several chalets, formed
of mud and stone, instead of the neat timber, with which those on the
Swiss mountains are constructed. Meagre peasants, whose sallow
countenances looked quite of a piece with the sandy hue of their
habitations, kept staring at us from crevices and hollow places: the
fresh roses of a garden are not more different from the rank weeds of an
unhealthy swamp, than these wretched objects from the ruddy inhabitants
of Switzerland.

My heart sank as we were driven alongside of one of these squalid
groups, huddled together under a blasted beech in expectation of a
storm. The wind drove the smoke and sparks of a fire just kindled at the
root of the tree, full in the face of an infant, whose mother had
abandoned it to implore our charity with outstretched withered hands.
The poor helpless being filled the air with waitings, and being tightly
swaddled lip in yellow rags, according to Savoyarde custom, exhibited an
appearance in form and colour not unlike that of an overgrown pumpkin
thrown on the ground out of the way. How should I have enjoyed setting
its limbs at liberty, and transporting it to the swelling bosom of a
Bernese peasant! such as I have seen in untaxed garments, red, blue and
green, with hair falling in braids mixed with flowers and silver
trinkets, hurrying along to some wake or wedding, with that firm step
and smiling hilarity which the consciousness of freedom inspires.

A few minutes dragging beyond the tree just mentioned, we reached the
bold verdant slopes of delicate short herbage which crown the crags of
the mountain. We now moved smoothly along the turf, brushing it with our
hands to extract its aromatic fragrance, and having no longer rough
stones to encounter, our conveyance became so agreeable that we
regretted our arrival before a chalet, under a clump of weather-beaten
beach. These are the identical trees, so far and widely discovered, on
the summit of Saleve, and the point to which we had been tending.

Seating ourselves on the very edge of a rocky cornice, we surveyed the
busy crowded territory of Geneva, the vast reach of the lake, its coast,
thickset with castles, towns, and villages, and the long line of the
Jura protecting these richly cultivated possessions. Turning round, we
traced the course of the Arve up to its awful sanctuary, the Alps of
Savoy, above which rose the Mont-Blanc in deadly paleness, backed by a
gloomy sky; nothing could form a stronger contrast to the populous and
fertile plains in front of the mountain than this chaos of snowy peaks
and melancholy deserts, the loftiest in the old world, held up in the
air, and beaten, in spite of summer, with wintry storms.

I know not how long we should have remained examining the prospect had
the weather been favourable, and had we enjoyed one of those serene
evenings to be expected in the month of July. Many such have I passed in
my careless childish days, stretched out on the brow of this very
mountain, contemplating the heavenly azure of the lake, the innumerable
windows of the villas below blazing in the setting sun, and the glaciers
suffused by its last ray with a blushing pink. How often, giving way to
youthful enthusiasm, have I peopled these singularly varied peaks with
gnomes and fairies, the distributors of gold and crystal to those who
adventurously scaled their lofty abode.

This evening my fancy was led to no such gay aërial excursions; sad
realities chained it to the earth, and to the scene before my eyes,
which, in lowering, sombre hue, corresponded with my interior gloom. A
rude blast driving us off the margin of the precipices, we returned to
the shelter of the beech. There we found some disappointed butterfly
catchers, probably of the watch-making tribe, and a silly boy gaping
after them with a lank net and empty boxes. This being Monday, I thought
the Saleve had been delivered from such intruders; but it seems that
the rage for natural history has so victoriously pervaded all ranks of
people in the republic, that almost every day in the week sends forth
some of its journeymen to ransack the neighbouring cliffs, and transfix
unhappy butterflies.

Silversmiths and toymen, possessed by the spirit of De Luc and De
Saussure’s lucubrations, throw away the light implements of their trade,
and sally forth with hammer and pickaxe to pound pebbles and knock at
the door of every mountain for information. Instead of furbishing up
teaspoons and sorting watch-chains, they talk of nothing but quartz and
feldspath. One flourishes away on the durability of granite, whilst
another treats calcareous rocks with contempt; but as human pleasures
are seldom perfect and permanent, acrimonious disputes too frequently
interrupt the calm of the philosophic excursion. Squabbles arise about
the genus of a coralite, or concerning that element which has borne the
greatest part in the convulsion of nature. The advocate of water too
often sneaks home to his wife with a tattered collar, whilst the
partisan of fire and volcanoes lies vanquished in a puddle, or winding
up the clue of his argument in a solitary ditch. I cannot help thinking
so diffused a taste for fossils and petrifactions of no very particular
benefit to the artisans of Geneva, and that watches would go as well,
though their makers were less enlightened.



LETTER II.

     Chalet under the Beech-trees.--A mountain Bridge.--Solemnity of the
     Night.--The Comedie.--Relaxation of Genevese Morality.


It began to rain just as we entered the chalet under the beech-trees,
and one of the dirtiest I ever crept into--it would have been
uncharitable not to have regretted the absence of swine, for here was
mud and filth enough to have insured their felicity. A woman, whose
teeth of a shining whiteness were the only clean objects I could
discover, brought us foaming bowls of cream and milk, with which we
regaled ourselves, and then got into our vehicle. We but too soon left
the smooth herbage behind, and passed about an hour in rambling down the
mountain pelted by the showers, from which we took shelter under the
limes at Moneti.

Here we should have drunk our tea in peace and quietness, had it not
been for the incursion of a gang of bandylegged watchmakers, smoking
their pipes, and scraping their fiddles, and snapping their fingers,
with all that insolent vulgarity so characteristic of the Rue-basse
portion of the Genevese community. We got out of their way, you may
easily imagine, as fast as we were able, and descending a rough road,
most abominably strewn with rolling pebbles, arrived at the bridge
d’Etrombieres just as it fell dark. The mouldering planks with which the
bridge is awkwardly put together, sounded suspiciously hollow under the
feet of our horses, and had it not been for the friendly light of a pine
torch which a peasant brought forth, we might have been tumbled into the
Arve.

It was a mild summer night, the rainy clouds were dissolving away with a
murmur of distant thunder so faint as to be scarcely heard. From time to
time a flash of summer lightning discovered the lonely tower of Moneti
on the edge of the lesser Saleve. The ghostly tales, which the old curè
of the mountains had told me at a period when I hungered and thirsted
after supernatural narrations, recurred to my memory, in all their
variety of horrors, and kept it fully employed till I found myself under
the walls of Geneva. The gates were shut, but I knew they were to be
opened again at ten o’clock for the convenience of those returning from
the _Comedie_.

The _Comedie_ is become of wonderful importance; but a few years ago the
very name of a play was held in such abhorrence by the spiritual
consistory of Geneva and its obsequious servants, which then included
the best part of the republic, that the partakers and abettors of such
diversions were esteemed on the high road to eternal perdition. Though,
God knows, I am unconscious of any extreme partiality for Calvin, I
cannot help thinking his severe discipline wisely adapted to the moral
constitution of this starch bit of a republic which he took to his grim
embraces. But these days of rigidity and plainness are completely gone
by; the soft spirit of toleration, so eloquently insinuated by Voltaire,
has removed all thorny fences, familiarized his numerous admirers with
every innovation, and laughed scruples of every nature to scorn.
Voltaire, indeed, may justly be styled the architect of that gay
well-ornamented bridge, by which freethinking and immorality have been
smuggled into the republic under the mask of philosophy and liberality
and sentiment. These monsters, like the Sin and Death of Milton, have
made speedy and irreparable havoc. To facilitate their operations, rose
the genius of “Rentes Viagères” at his bidding, tawdry villas with their
little pert groves of poplar and horse-chesnut start up--his power
enables Madame C. D. the bookseller’s lady to amuse the D. of G. with
assemblies, sets Parisian cabriolets and English phaetons rolling from
one faro table to another, and launches innumerable pleasure parties
with banners and popguns on the lake, drumming and trumpeting away their
time from morn till evening. I recollect, not many years past, how
seldom the echoes of the mountains were profaned by such noises, and how
rarely the drones of Geneva, if any there were in that once industrious
city, had opportunities of displaying their idleness; but now
Dissipation reigns triumphant, and to pay the tribute she exacts, every
fool runs headlong to throw his scrapings into the voracious whirlpool
of annuities; little caring, provided he feeds high and lolls in his
carriage, what becomes of his posterity. I had ample time to make these
reflections, as the _Comedie_ lasted longer than usual.

Luckily the night improved, the storms had rolled away, and the moon
rising from behind the crags of the lesser Saleve cast a pleasant gleam
on the smooth turf of plain-palais, where we walked to and fro above
half an hour. We had this extensive level almost entirely to ourselves,
no light glimmered in any window, no sound broke the general stillness,
except a low murmur proceeding from a group of chesnut trees. There,
snug under a garden wall on a sequestered bench, sat two or three
Genevois of the old stamp, chewing the cud of sober sermons--men who
receive not more than seven or eight per cent. for their money; there
sat they waiting for their young ones, who had been seduced to the
theatre.

A loud hubbub and glare of flambeaus proclaiming the end of the play, we
left these good folks to their rumination, and regaining our carriage
rattled furiously through the streets of Geneva, once so quiet, so
silent at these hours, to the no small terror and annoyance of those
whom Rentes Viagères had not yet provided with a speedier conveyance
than their own legs, or a brighter satellite than an old cook-maid with
a candle and lantern.

It was eleven o’clock before we reached home, and near two before I
retired to rest, having sat down immediately to write this letter whilst
the impressions of the day were fresh in my memory.

END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.

LONDON:

PRINTED BY SAMUEL BENTLEY,

Dorset Street, Fleet Street.



ITALY;

WITH SKETCHES OF

SPAIN AND PORTUGAL.

BY THE AUTHOR OF “VATHEK.”

THIRD EDITION.

IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. II.

LONDON:

RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET,

Publisher in Ordinary to His Majesty.

1835.



CONTENTS

OF

THE SECOND VOLUME.

PORTUGAL.

LETTER I.

Detained at Falmouth.--Navigation at a stop.--An evening
ramble.                                      Page 5

LETTER II.

Mines in the parish of Gwynnap.--Piety and gin.--Rapid
progress of Methodism.--Freaks of fortune.--Pernicious
extravagance.--Minerals.--Mr. Beauchamp’s mansion.--Beautiful
lake.--The wind still contrary.                                        8

LETTER III.

A lovely morning.--Antiquated mansion.--Its lady.--Ancestral
effigies.--Collection of animals.--Serene evening.--Owls.--Expected
dreams.                                                               12

LETTER IV.

A blustering night.--Tedium of the language of the
compass.--Another excursion to Trefusis.                              16

LETTER V.

Regrets produced by contrasts.                                        19

LETTER VI.

Still no prospect of embarkation.--Pen-dennis Castle.--Luxuriant
vegetation.--A serene day.--Anticipations of
the voyage.                                                           21

LETTER VII.

Portugal.--Excursion to Pagliavam.--The villa.--Dismal
labyrinths in the Dutch style.--Roses.--Anglo-Portuguese
Master of the Horse.--Interior of the Palace.--Furniture
in petticoats.--Force of education.--Royalty without power.--Return
from the Palace.                                                      23

LETTER VIII.

Glare of the climate in Portugal.--Apish luxury.--Botanic
Gardens.--Açafatas.--Description of the Gardens and
Terraces.                                                             29

LETTER IX.

Consecration of the Bishop of Algarve.--Pathetic Music.--Valley
of Alcantara.--Enormous Aqueduct.--Visit to the
Marialva Palace.--Its much revered Masters.--Collection of
rarities.--The Viceroy of Algarve.--Polyglottery.--A
night-scene.--Modinhas.--Extraordinary Procession.--Blessings
of Patriarchal Government.                                            34

LETTER X.

Festival of the Corpo de Deos.--Striking decoration of the
streets.--The Patriarchal Cathedral.--Coming forth of the
Sacrament in awful state.--Gorgeous procession.--Bewildering
confusion of sounds.                                                  47

LETTER XI.

Dinner at the country-house of Mr. S----.--His Brazilian
wife.--Magnificent Repast.--A tragic damsel.                          51

LETTER XII.

Pass the day at Belem.--Visit the neighbouring Monastery.--Habitation
of King Emanuel.--A gold Custodium of
exquisite workmanship.--The Church.--Bonfires on the
edge of the Tagus.--Fire-works.--Images of the Holy
One of Lisbon.                                                        55

LETTER XIII.

The New Church of St. Anthony.--Sprightly Music.--Enthusiastic
Sermon.--The good Prior of Avia.--Visit to
the Carthusian Convent of Cachiez.--Spectres of the Order.--Striking
effigy of the Saviour.--A young and melancholy
Carthusian.--The Cemetery.                                            59

LETTER XIV.

Curious succession of visiters.--A Seraphic Doctor.--Monsenhor
Aguilar.--Mob of old hags, children, and ragamuffins.--Visit
to the Theatre in the Rua d’os Condes.--The
Archbishop Confessor.--Brazilian Modinhas.--Bewitching
nature of that music.--Nocturnal processions.--Enthusiasm
of the young Conde de Villanova.--No accounting for
fancies.                                                              68

LETTER XV.

Excessive sultriness of Lisbon.--Night-sounds of the city.--Public
gala in the garden of the Conde de Villa Nova.--Visit
to the Anjeja Palace.--The heir of the family.--Marvellous
narrations of a young priest.--Convent of
Savoyard nuns.--Father Theodore’s chickens.--Sequestered
group of beauties.--Singing of the Scarlati.                          77

LETTER XVI.

Ups-and-downs of Lisbon.--Negro Beldames.--Quinta of
Marvilla.--Moonlight view of Lisbon.--Illuminated windows
of the Palace.--The old Marquis of Penalva.--Padre
Duarte, a famous Jesuit.--Conversation between him and a
conceited Physician.--Their ludicrous blunders.--Toad-eaters.--Sonatas.--Portuguese
minuets.                                                              88

LETTER XVII.

Dog-howlings.--Visit to the Convent of San Josè di Ribamar.--Breakfast
at the Marquis of Penalvas.--Magnificent
and hospitable reception.--Whispering in the shade of
mysterious chambers.--The Bishop of Algarve.--Evening
scene in the garden of Marvilla.                                      96

LETTER XVIII.

Excursion to Cintra.--Villa of Ramalhaô.--The Garden.--Collares.--Pavilion
designed by Pillement.--A convulsive
gallop.--Cold weather in July.                                       104

LETTER XIX.

Sympathy between Toads and Old Women.--Palace of
Cintra.--Reservoir of Gold and Silver Fish.--Parterre on
the summit of a lofty terrace.--Place of confinement of
Alphonso the Sixth.--The Chapel.--Barbaric profusion
of Gold.--Altar at which Don Sebastian knelt when he
received a supernatural warning.--Rooms in preparation
for the Queen and the Infantas.--Return to Ramalhaô.                 110

LETTER XX.

Grand gala at Court.--Festival in honour of the birthday
of Guildermeester.--Mad freaks of a Frenchman.--Unwelcome
lights of Truth.--Invective against the English.                     117

LETTER XXI.

The Queen of Portugal’s Chapel.--The Orchestra.--Rehearsal
of a Council.--Proposal to visit Mafra.                              123

LETTER XXII.

Road to Mafra.--Distant view of the Convent.--Its vast
fronts.--General magnificence of the Edifice.--The
Church.--The High Altar.--Eve of the Festival of St.
Augustine.--The collateral Chapels.--The Sacristy.--The
Abbot of the Convent.--The Library.--View from
the Convent-roof.--Chime of Bells.--House of the Capitan
Mor.--Dinner.--Vespers.--Awful sound of the Organs.--The
Palace.--Return to the Convent.--Inquisitive crowd.--The
Garden.--Matins.--A Procession.--The Hall de
Profundis.--Solemn Repast.--Supper at the Capitan
Mor’s.                                                               127

LETTER XXIII.

High mass.--Garden of the Viscount Ponte de Lima.--Leave
Mafra.--An accident.--Return to Cintra.--My saloon.--Beautiful
view from it.                                                        143

LETTER XXIV.

A saloon in the highest style of oriental decoration.--Amusing
stories of King John the Fifth and his recluses.--Cheerful
funeral.--Refreshing ramble to the heights of
Penha Verde.                                                         147

LETTER XXV.

Anecdotes of the Conde de San Lorenzo.--Visit to Mrs.
Guildermeester.--Toads active, and toads passive.--The
old Consul and his tray of jewels.                                   157

LETTER XXVI.

Expected arrival at Cintra of the Queen and suite.--Duke
d’Alafoens.--Excursion to a rustic Fair.--Revels of
the Peasantry.--Night-scene at the Marialva Villa.                   163

LETTER XXVII.

Curious scene in the interior of the palace of Cintra.--Singular
invitation.--Dinner with the Archbishop Confessor.--Hilarity
and shrewd remarks of that extraordinary
personage.                                                           169

LETTER XXVIII.

Explore the Cintra Mountains.--Convent of Nossa Senhora
da Penha.--Moorish Ruins.--The Cork Convent.--The
Rock of Lisbon.--Marine Scenery.--Susceptible imagination
of the Ancients exemplified.                                         179

LETTER XXIX.

Excursion to Penha Verde.--Resemblance of that Villa
to the edifices in Caspar Poussin’s landscapes.--The ancient
pine-trees, said to have been planted by Don John de
Castro.--The old forests displaced by gaudy terraces.--Influx
of visitors.--A celebrated Prior’s erudition and
strange anachronisms.--The Beast in the Apocalypse.--Œcolampadius.--Bevy
of Palace damsels.--Fête at the
Marialva Villa.--The Queen and the Royal Family.--A
favourite dwarf Negress.--Dignified manner of the
Queen.--Profound respect inspired by her presence.--Rigorous
etiquette.--Grand display of Fireworks.--The
young Countess of Lumieres.--Affecting resemblance.                  189

LETTER XXX.

Cathedral of Lisbon.--Trace of St. Anthony’s fingers.--The
Holy Crows.--Party formed to visit them.--A Portuguese
poet.--Comfortable establishment of the Holy
Crows.--Singular tradition connected with them.--Illuminations
in honour of the Infanta’s accouchement.--Public
harangues.--Policarpio’s singing, and anecdotes
of the _haute noblesse_.                                             201

LETTER XXXI.

Rambles in the Valley of Collates.--Elysian scenery.--Song
of a young female peasant.--Rustic hospitality.--Interview
with the Prince of Brazil in the plains of Cascais.--Conversation
with His Royal Highness.--Return to
Ramalhaô.                                                            212

LETTER XXXII.

Convent of Boa Morte.--Emaciated priests.--Austerity of
the Order.--Contrite personages.--A _nouveau riche_.--His
house.--Walk on the veranda of the palace at Belem.--Train
of attendants at dinner.--Portuguese gluttony.--Black
dose of legendary superstition.--Terrible denunciations.--A
dreary evening.                                                      229

LETTER XXXIII.

Rehearsal of Seguidillas.--Evening scene.--Crowds of
beggars.--Royal charity misplaced.--Mendicant flattery.--Frightful
countenances.--Performance at the Salitri theatre.--Countess
of Pombeiro and her dwarf negresses.--A
strange ballet.--Return to the Palace.--Supper at the Camareira
Mor’s.--Filial affection.--Last interview with the
Archbishop.--Fatal tide of events.--Heart-felt regret on
leaving Portugal.                                                    235

LETTER XXXIV.

Dead mass at the church of Martyrs.--Awful music by
Perez and Jomelli.--Marialva’s affecting address.--My
sorrow and anxiety.                                                  253



SPAIN.


LETTER I.

Embark on the Tagus.--Aldea Gallega.--A poetical postmaster.--The
church.--Leave Aldea Gallega.--Scenery on
the road.--Palace built by John the Fifth.--Ruins at Montemor.--Reach
Arroyolos.                                                           259


LETTER II.

A wild tract of forest-land.--Arrival at Estremoz.--A fair.--An
outrageous sermon.--Boundless wastes of gum-cistus.--Elvas.--Our
reception there.--My visiters.                                       268


LETTER III.

Pass the rivulet which separates Spain and Portugal.--A
muleteer’s enthusiasm.--Badajoz.--The cathedral.--Journey
resumed.--A vast plain.--Village of Lubaon.--Withered
hags.--Names and characters of our mules.--Posada at
Merida.                                                              275


LETTER IV.

Arrival at Miaxada.--Monotonous singing.--Dismal
country.--Truxillo.--A rainy morning.--Resume our journey.--Immense
wood of cork-trees.--Almaraz.--Reception by the
escrivano.--A terrific volume.--Village of Laval de Moral.--Range
of lofty mountains.--Calzada.                                        282


LETTER V.

Sierra de los Gregos.--Mass.--Oropeza.--Talavera.--Drawling
tirannas.--Talavera de la Reyna.--Reception at
Santa Olaya.--The lady of the house and her dogs and
dancers.                                                             289


LETTER VI.

Dismal plains.--Santa Cruz.--Val de Carneiro.--A most
determined musical amateur.--The Alcayde Mayor.--Approach
to Madrid.--Aspect of the city.--The Calle d’Alcala.--The
Prado.--The Ave-Maria bell.                                          296


LETTER VII.

The Duchess of Berwick in all her nonchalance.--Her
apartment described.--Her passion for music.--Her señoros
de honor.                                                            301


LETTER VIII.

The Chevalier de Roxas.--Excursion to the palace and
gardens of the Buen Retiro.--The Turkish Ambassador and
his numerous train.--Farinelli’s apartments.                         305


LETTER IX.

The Museum and Academy of Arts.--Scene on the Prado.--The
Portuguese Ambassador and his comforters.--The
Theatre.--A highly popular dancer.--Seguidillas in all their
glory.                                                               310


LETTER X.

Visit to the Escurial.--Imposing site of that regal convent.--Reception
by the Mystagogue of the place.--Magnificence
of the choir.--Charles the Fifth’s organ.--Crucifix
by Cellini.--Gorgeous ceiling painted by Lucca Giordano.--Extent
and intricacy of the stupendous edifice.                             314


LETTER XI.

Mysterious cabinets.--Relics of Martyrs.--A feather from
the Archangel Gabriel’s wing.--Labyrinth of gloomy cloisters.--Sepulchral
cave.--River of death.--The regal sarcophagi.                        323


LETTER XII.

A concert and ball at Senhor Pacheco’s.--Curious assemblage
in his long pompous gallery.--Deplorable ditty by an
eastern dilettante.--A bolero in the most rapturous style.--Boccharini
in despair.--Solecisms in dancing.                                   329


LETTER XIII.

Palace of Madrid.--Masterly productions of the great
Italian, Spanish, and Flemish painters.--The King’s sleeping
apartment.--Musical clocks.--Feathered favourites.--Picture
of the Madonna del Spasimo.--Interview with Don
Gabriel and the Infanta.--Her Royal Highness’s affecting
recollections of home.--Head-quarters of Masserano.--Exhibition
of national manners there.                                           339


LETTER XIV.

A German Visionary.--Remarkable conversation with
him.--History of a Ghost-seer.                                       349


LETTER XV.

Madame Bendicho.--Unsuccessful search on the Prado.--Kauffman,
an infidel in the German style.--Mass in the
chapel of the Virgin.--The Duchess of Alba’s villa.--Destruction
by a young French artist of the paintings of Rubens.--French
ambassador’s ball.--Heir-apparent of the
house of Medina Celi.                                                354


LETTER XVI.

Visit from the Turkish Ambassador.--Stroll to the gardens
of the Buen Retiro.--Troop of ostriches.--Madame
d’Aranda.--State of Cortejo-ism.--Powers of drapery.--Madame
d’Aranda’s toilet.--Assembly at the house of Madame
Badaan.--Cortejos off duty.--Blaze of beauty.--A
curious group.--A dance.                                             358


LETTER XVII.

Valley of Aranjuez.--The island garden.--The palace.--Strange
medley of pictures.--Oratories of the King and the
Queen.--Destruction of a grand apartment painted in fresco
by Mengs.--Boundless freedom of conduct in the present
reign.--Decoration of the Duchess of Ossuna’s house.--Apathy
pervading the whole Iberian peninsula.                               365


LETTER XVIII.

Explore the extremities of the Calle de la Reyna.--Destructive
rage for improvement.--Loveliness of the valley
of Aranjuez.--Undisturbed happiness of the animals there.--Degeneration
of the race of grandees.--A royal cook.                              376



PORTUGAL.



PREFACE

TO

PORTUGUESE LETTERS.


Portugal attracting much attention in her present convulsed and
declining state, it might not perhaps be uninteresting to the public to
cast back a glance by way of contrast to the happier times when she
enjoyed, under the mild and beneficent reign of Donna Maria the First, a
great share of courtly and commercial prosperity.

March 1, 1834.



PORTUGAL.



LETTER I.

     Detained at Falmouth.--Navigation at a stop.--An evening ramble.


Falmouth, March 6, 1787.

The glass is sinking; the west wind gently breathing upon the water, the
smoke softly descending into the room, and sailors yawning dismally at
the door of every ale-house.

Navigation seems at a full stop. The captains lounging about with their
hands in their pockets, and passengers idling at billiards. Dr. V----
has scraped acquaintance with a quaker, and went last night to one of
their assemblies, where he kept jingling his fine Genevan watch-chains
to their sober and silent dismay.

In the intervals of the mild showers with which we are blessed, I ramble
about some fields already springing with fresh herbage, which slope
down to the harbour: the immediate environs of Falmouth are not
unpleasant upon better acquaintance. Just out of the town, in a
sheltered recess of the bay, lies a grove of tall elms, forming several
avenues carpeted with turf. In the central point rises a stone pyramid
about thirty feet high, well designed and constructed, but quite plain
without any inscription; between the stems of the trees one discovers a
low white house, built in and out in a very capricious manner, with
oriel windows and porches, shaded by bushes of prosperous bay. Several
rose-coloured cabbages, with leaves as crisped and curled as those of
the acanthus, decorate a little grass-plat, neatly swept, before the
door. Over the roof of this snug habitation I spied the skeleton of a
gothic mansion, so completely robed with thick ivy, as to appear like
one of those castles of clipped box I have often seen in a Dutch garden.

Yesterday evening, the winds being still, and the sun gleaming warm for
a moment or two, I visited this spot to examine the ruin, hear birds
chirp, and scent wall-flowers.

Two young girls, beautifully shaped, and dressed with a sort of romantic
provincial elegance, were walking up and down the grove by the pyramid.
There was something so love-lorn in their gestures, that I have no doubt
they were sighing out their souls to each other. As a decided amateur of
this sort of _confidential promenade_, I would have given my ears to
have heard their _confessions_.



LETTER II.

     Mines in the parish of Gwynnap.--Piety and gin.--Rapid progress of
     Methodism.--Freaks of fortune.--Pernicious
     extravagance.--Minerals.--Mr. Beauchamp’s mansion.--Beautiful
     lake.--The wind still contrary.


Falmouth, March 7, 1787.

Scott came this morning and took me to see the consolidated mines in the
parish of Gwynnap; they are situated in a bleak desert, rendered still
more doleful by the unhealthy appearance of its inhabitants. At every
step one stumbles upon ladders that lead into utter darkness, or funnels
that exhale warm copperous vapours. All around these openings the ore is
piled up in heaps waiting for purchasers. I saw it drawn reeking out of
the mine by the help of a machine called a whim, put in motion by mules,
which in their turn are stimulated by impish children hanging over the
poor brutes, and flogging them round without respite. This dismal scene
of _whims_, suffering mules, and hillocks of cinders, extends for
miles. Huge iron engines creaking and groaning, invented by Watt, and
tall chimneys smoking and flaming, that seem to belong to old Nicholas’s
abode, diversify the prospect.

Two strange-looking Cornish beings, dressed in ghostly white, conducted
me about, and very kindly proposed a descent into the bowels of the
earth, but I declined initiation. These mystagogues occupy a tolerable
house, with fair sash windows, where the inspectors of the mine hold
their meetings, and regale upon beef, pudding, and brandy.

While I was standing at the door of this habitation, several woful
figures in tattered garments, with pickaxes on their shoulders, crawled
out of a dark fissure and repaired to a hovel, which I learnt was a
gin-shop. There they pass the few hours allotted them above ground, and
drink, it is to be hoped, an oblivion of their subterraneous existence.
Piety as well as gin helps to fill up their leisure moments, and I was
told that Wesley, who came apostolising into Cornwall a few years ago,
preached on this very spot to above seven thousand followers.

Since this period Methodism has made a very rapid progress, and has been
of no trifling service in diverting the attention of these sons of
darkness from then present condition to the glories of the life to come.
However, some people inform me their actual state is not so much to be
lamented, and that, notwithstanding their pale looks and tattered
raiment, they are far from being poor or unhealthy. Fortune often throws
a considerable sum into their laps when they least expect it, and many a
common miner has been known to gain a hundred pounds in the space of a
month or two. Like sailors in the first effusion of prize-money, they
have no notion of turning their good-luck to advantage; but squander the
fruits of their toil in the silliest species of extravagance. Their
wives are dressed out in tawdry silks, and flaunt away in ale-houses
between rows of obedient fiddlers. The money spent, down they sink again
into damps and darkness.

Having passed about an hour in collecting minerals, stopping engines
with my finger, and performing all the functions of a diligent young man
desirous of information, I turned my back on smokes, flames, and
coal-holes, with great pleasure.

Not above a mile-and-a-half from this black bustling scene, in a
sheltered valley, lies the mansion of Mr. Beauchamp, wrapped up in
shrubberies of laurel and laurustine. Copses of hazel and holly
terminate the prospect on almost every side, and in the midst of the
glen a broad clear stream reflects the impending vegetation. This
transparent water, after performing the part of a mirror before the
house, forms a succession of waterfalls which glitter between slopes of
the smoothest turf, sprinkled with daffodils: numerous flights of
widgeon and Muscovy ducks, were sprucing themselves on the edge of the
stream, and two grave swans seemed highly to approve of its woody
retired banks for the education of their progeny.

Very glad was I to disport on its “margent green,” after crushing
cinders at every step all the morning; had not the sun hid himself, and
the air grown chill, I might have fooled away three or four hours with
the swans and the widgeons, and lost my dinner. Upon my return home, I
found the wind as contrary as ever, and all thoughts of sailing
abandoned.



LETTER III.

     A lovely morning.--Antiquated mansion.--Its lady.--Ancestral
     effigies.--Collection of animals.--Serene evening.--Owls.--Expected
     dreams.


Falmouth, March 8, 1787.

What a lovely morning! how glassy the sea, how busy the fishing-boats,
and how fast asleep the wind in its old quarter! Towards evening,
however, it freshened, and I took a toss in a boat with Mr. Trefusis,
whose territories extend half round the bay. His green hanging downs
spotted with sheep, and intersected by rocky gullies, shaded by tall
straight oaks and ashes, form a romantic prospect, very much in the
style of Mount Edgcumbe.

We drank tea at the capital of these dominions, an antiquated mansion,
which is placed in a hollow on the summit of a lofty hill, and contains
many ruinous halls and never-ending passages: they cannot, however, be
said to lead to nothing, like those celebrated by Gray in his Long
Story, for Mrs. Trefusis terminated the perspective. She is a native of
Lausanne, and was quite happy to see her countryman Verdeil.

We should have very much enjoyed her conversation, but the moment tea
was over, the squire could not resist leading us round his improvements
in kennel, stable, and oxstall: though it was pitch-dark, and we were
obliged to be escorted by grooms and groomlings with candles and
lanterns; a very necessary precaution, as the winds blew not more
violently without the house than within.

In the course of our peregrination through halls, pantries, and
antechambers, we passed a staircase with heavy walnut-railing, lined
from top to bottom with effigies of ancestors that looked quite
formidable by the horny glow of our lanterns; which illumination, dull
as it was, occasioned much alarm amongst a collection of animals, both
furred and feathered, the delight of Mr. Trefusis’s existence.

Every corner of his house contains some strange and stinking inhabitant;
one can hardly move without stumbling over a basket of puppies, or
rolling along a mealy tub, with ferrets in the bottom of it; rap went my
head against a wire cage, and behold a squirrel twirled out of its sleep
in sad confusion: a little further on, I was very near being the
destruction of some new-born dormice--their feeble squeak haunts my ears
at this moment!

Beyond this nursery, a door opened and admitted us into a large saloon,
in the days of Mr. Trefusis’s father very splendidly decorated, but at
present exhibiting nothing, save damp plastered walls, mouldering
floors, and cracked windows. A well-known perfume issuing from this
apartment, proclaimed the neighbourhood of those fragrant animals, which
you perfectly recollect were the joy of my infancy, and presently three
or four couple of spanking yellow rabbits made their appearance. A
racoon poked his head out of a coop, whilst an owl lifted up the gloom
of his countenance, and gave us his malediction.

My nose having lost all relish for _rabbitish_ odours, took refuge in my
handkerchief; there did I keep it snug till it pleased our conductors to
light us through two or three closets, all of a flutter with Virginia
nightingales, goldfinches, and canary-birds, into the stable. Several
game-cocks fell a crowing with most triumphant shrillness upon our
approach; and a monkey--the image of poor Brandoin--expanded his jaws in
so woful a manner, that I grew melancholy, and paid the hunters not half
the attention they merited.

At length we got into the open air again, made our bows and departed.
The evening was become serene and pleasant, the moon beamed brilliantly
on the sea; but the owls, who are never to be pleased, hooted most
ruefully.

Good night: I expect to dream of _closed-up doors_,[12] and haunted
passages; rats, puppies, racoons, game-cocks, rabbits, and dormice.



LETTER IV.

     A blustering night.--Tedium of the language of the
     compass.--Another excursion to Trefusis.


Falmouth, March 10, 1787.

I thought last night our thin pasteboard habitation would have been
blown into the sea, for never in my life did I hear such dreadful
blusterings. Perhaps the winds are celebrating the approach of the
equinox, or some high festival in Æolus’s calendar, with which we poor
mortals are unacquainted. How tired I am of the language of the compass,
of wind shifting to this point and veering to the other; of gales
springing up, and breezes freshening; of rough seas, clear berths, ships
driving, and anchors lifting. Oh! that I was rooted like a tree, in some
sheltered corner of an inland valley, where I might never hear more of
saltwater or sailing.

You cannot wonder at my becoming impatient, after eleven days’
captivity, nor at my wishing myself anywhere but where I am: I should
almost prefer a quarantine party at the new elegant Lazaretto off
Marseilles, to this smoky residence; at least, I might there learn some
curious particulars of the Levant, enjoy bright sunshine, and perfect
myself in Arabic. But what can a being of my turn do at Falmouth? I have
little taste for the explanation of fire-engines, Mr. Scott; the pursuit
of hares under the auspices of young Trefusis; or the gliding of
billiard-balls in the society of Barbadoes Creoles and packet-boat
captains. The Lord have mercy upon me! now, indeed, do I perform
penance.

Our dinner yesterday went off tolerably well. We had _on_ the table a
savoury pig, right worthy of Otaheite, and some of the finest poultry I
ever tasted; and _round_ the table two or three brace of odd Cornish
gentlefolks, not deficient in humour and originality.

About eight in the evening, six game-cocks were ushered into the
eating-room by two limber lads in scarlet jackets; and, after a flourish
of crowing, the noble birds set-to with surprising keenness. Tufts of
brilliant feathers soon flew about the apartment; but the carpet was
not stained with the blood of the combatants: for, to do Trefusis
justice, he has a generous heart, and takes no pleasure in cruelty. The
cocks were unarmed, had their spurs cut short, and may live to fight
fifty such harmless battles.



LETTER V.

     Regrets produced by Contrasts.


Falmouth, March 11, 1787.

What a fool was I to leave my beloved retirement at Evian! Instead of
viewing innumerable transparent rills falling over the amber-coloured
rocks of Melierie, I am chained down to contemplate an oozy beach,
deserted by the sea, and becrawled with worms tracking their way in the
slime that harbours them. Instead of the cheerful crackling of a
wood-fire in the old baron’s great hall, I hear the bellowing of winds
in narrow chimneys. You must allow the aromatic fragrance of fir-cones,
such heaps of which I used to burn in Savoy, is greatly preferable to
the exhalations of Welsh coal, and that to a person wrapped up in
musical devotion, high mass must be a good deal superior to the hummings
and hawings of a Quaker assembly. Colett swears he had rather be
boarded at the Inquisition than remain at the mercy of the confounded
keeper of this hotel, the worst and the dearest in Christendom. We are
all tired to death, and know not what to do with ourselves.

As I look upon ennui to be very catching, I shall break off before I
give you a share of it.



LETTER VI.

     Still no prospect of embarkation.--Pen-dennis Castle.--Luxuriant
     vegetation.--A serene day.--Anticipations of the voyage.


Falmouth, March 13, 1787.

No prospect of launching this day upon the ocean. Every breeze is
subsided, and a profound calm established. I walk up and down the path
which leads to Pen-dennis Castle with folded arms, in a most listless
desponding mood. Vast brakes of furze, much stouter and loftier than any
with which I am acquainted, scent the air with the perfume of apricots.
Primroses, violets, and fresh herbs innumerable expand on every bank.
Larks, poised in the soft blue sky, warble delightfully. The sea, far
and wide, is covered with fishing-boats; and such a stillness prevails,
that I hear the voices of the fishermen.

You will be rambling in sheltered alleys, whilst winds and currents
drive me furiously along craggy shores, under the scowl of a
tempestuous sky. You will be angling for perch, whilst sharks are
whetting their teeth at me. Methinks I hear the voracious gluttons
disputing the first snap, and pointing upwards their cold slimy noses.
Out upon them! I have no desire to invade their element, or (using
poetical language) to plough those plains of waves which brings them
rich harvests of carcasses, and had much rather cling fast to the green
banks of Pen-dennis. I even prefer mining to sailing; and of the two,
had rather be swallowed up by the earth than the ocean.

I wish some “swart fairy of the mine” would snatch me to her
concealments. Rather than pass a month in the qualms of sea-sickness, I
would consent to live three by candlelight, in the deepest den you could
discover, stuck close to a foul midnight hag as mouldy as a rotten
apple.

This, you will tell me, is being very energetic in my aversions, that I
allow; but such, you know, is my trim, and I cannot help it.



LETTER VII.

     Portugal.--Excursion to Pagliavam.--The villa.--Dismal labyrinths
     in the Dutch style.--Roses.--Anglo-Portuguese Master of the
     Horse.--Interior of the Palace.--Furniture in petticoats.--Force of
     education.--Royalty without power.--Return from the Palace.


30th May, 1787.

Horne persuaded me much against my will to accompany him in his
Portuguese chaise to Pagliavam, the residence of John the Fifth’s
bastards, instead of following my usual track along the sea-shore. The
roads to this stately garden are abominable, and more infested by
beggars, dogs, flies, and musquitoes, than any I am acquainted with. The
villa itself, which belongs to the Marquis of Lourical, is placed in a
hollow, and the tufted groves which surround it admit not a breath of
air; so I was half suffocated the moment I entered their shade.

A great flat space before the garden-front of the villa is laid out in
dismal labyrinths of clipped myrtle, with lofty pyramids rising from
them, in the style of that vile Dutch maze planted by King William at
Kensington, and rooted up some years ago by King George the Third.
Beyond this puzzling ground are several long alleys of stiff dark
verdure, called _ruas_, _i. e._ literally streets, with great propriety,
being more close, more formal, and not less dusty than High-Holborn. I
deviated from them into plats of well-watered vegetables and aromatic
herbs, enclosed by neat fences of cane, covered with an embroidery of
the freshest and most perfect roses, quite free from insects and
cankers, worthy to have strewn the couches and graced the bosom of Lais,
Aspasia, or Lady----. You know how warmly every mortal of taste delights
in these lovely flowers; how frequently, and in what harmonious numbers,
Ariosto has celebrated them. Has not Lady ---- a whole apartment painted
over with roses? Does she not fill her bath with their leaves, and deck
her idols with garlands of no other flowers? and is she not quite in the
right of it?

Whilst I was poetically engaged with the roses, Horne entered into
conversation with a sort of Anglo-Portuguese Master of the Horse to
their bastard highnesses. He had a snug well-powdered wig, a bright
silver-hilted sword, a crimson full-dress suit, and a gently bulging
paunch. With one hand in his bosom and the other in the act of taking
snuff, he harangued emphatically upon the holiness, temperance, and
chastity of his august masters, who live sequestered from the world in
dingy silent state, abhor profane company, and never cast a look upon
females.

Being curious to see the abode of these semi-royal sober personages, I
entered the palace. Not an insect stirred, not a whisper was audible.
The principal apartments consist in a suite of lofty-coved saloons,
nobly proportioned, and uniformly hung with damask of the deepest
crimson. The upper end of each room is doubly shaded by a ponderous
canopy of cut velvet. To the right and left appear rows of huge
elbow-chairs of the same materials. No glasses, no pictures, no gilding,
no decoration, but heavy drapery; even the tables are concealed by cut
velvet flounces, in the style of those with which our dowagers used
formerly to array their toilets. The very sight of such close tables is
enough to make one perspire; and I cannot imagine what demon prompted
the Portuguese to invent such a fusty fashion.

This taste for putting commodes and tables into petticoats is pretty
general here, at least in royal apartments. At Queluz, not a card or
dining-table has escaped; and many an old court-dress, I should suspect,
has been cut up to furnish these accoutrements, which are of all
colours, plain and flowered, pastorally sprigged or gorgeously
embroidered. Not so at Pagliavam. Crimson alone prevails, and casts its
royal gloom unrivalled on every object. Stuck fast to the wall, between
two of the aforementioned tables, are two fauteuils for their
highnesses; and opposite, a rank of chairs for those reverend fathers in
God who from time to time are honoured with admittance.

How mighty is the force of Education!--What pains it must require on the
part of nurses, equerries, and chamberlains, to stifle every lively and
generous sensation in the princelings they educate,--to break a human
being into the habits of impotent royalty! Dignity without command is
one of the heaviest of burthens. A sovereign may employ himself; he has
the choice of good or evil; but princes, like those of Pagliavam,
without power or influence, who have nothing to feed on but imaginary
greatness, must yawn their souls out, and become in process of time as
formal and inanimate as the pyramids of stunted myrtle in their gardens.
Happier were those babies King John did not think proper to recognize,
and they are not few in number, for that pious monarch,

                “Wide as his command,
    “Scattered his Maker’s image through the land.”

They, perhaps, whilst their brothers are gaping under rusty canopies,
tinkle their guitars in careless moonlight rambles, wriggle in gay
fandangos, or enjoy sound sleep, rural fare, and merriment, in the
character of jolly village curates.

I was glad to get out of the palace; its stillness and gloom depressed
my spirits, and a confined atmosphere, impregnated with the smell of
burnt lavender, almost overcame me. I am just returned gasping for air.
No wonder; one might as well be in bed with a warming-pan as in a
Portuguese cariole with the portly Horne, who carries a noble
protuberance, set off in this season with a satin waistcoat richly
spangled.

I must go to Cintra, or I shall expire!



LETTER VIII.

     Glare of the climate in Portugal.--Apish luxury.--Botanic
     Gardens.--Açafatas.--Description of the Gardens and Terraces.


May 31, 1787.

It is in vain I call upon clouds to cover me and fogs to wrap me up. You
can form no adequate idea of the continual glare of this renowned
climate. Lisbon is the place in the world best calculated to make one
cry out

    “Hide me from day’s garish eye;”

but where to hide is not so easy. Here are no thickets of pine as in the
classic Italian villas, none of those quivering poplars and leafy
chestnuts which cover the plains of Lombardy. The groves in the
immediate environs of this capital are composed of--with, alas! but few
exceptions--dwarfish orange-trees and cinder-coloured olives. Under
their branches repose neither shepherds nor shepherdesses, but
whitening bones, scraps of leather, broken pantiles, and passengers not
unfrequently attended by monkeys, who, I have been told, are let out for
the purpose of picking up a livelihood. Those who cannot afford this
apish luxury, have their bushy poles untenanted by affectionate
relations, for yesterday just under my window I saw two blessed babies
rendering this good office to their aged parent.

I had determined not to have stirred beyond the shade of my awning;
however, towards eve, the extreme fervour of the sun being a little
abated, old Horne (who has yet a colt’s-tooth) prevailed upon me to walk
in the Botanic Gardens, where not unfrequently are to be found certain
youthful animals of the female gender called Açafatas, in Portuguese; a
species between a bedchamber woman and a maid of honour. The Queen has
kindly taken the ugliest with her to the Caldas: those who remain have
large black eyes sparkling with the true spirit of adventure, an
exuberant flow of dark hair, and pouting lips of the colour and size of
full-blown roses.

All this, you will tell me, does not compose a perfect beauty. I never
meant to convey such a notion: I only wish you to understand that the
nymphs we have just quitted are the flowers of the Queen’s flock, and
that she has, at least, four or five dozen more in attendance upon her
sacred person, with larger mouths, smaller eyes, and swarthier
complexions.

Not being in sufficient spirits to flourish away in Portuguese, my
conversation was chiefly addressed to a lovely blue-eyed Irish girl of
fifteen or sixteen, lately married to an officer of her Majesty’s
customs. Spouse goes a pilgrimaging to Nossa Senhora do Cabo--little
madam whisks about the Botanic Garden with the ladies of the palace and
a troop of sopranos, who teach her to warble and speak Italian. She is
well worth teaching everything in their power. Her hair of the loveliest
auburn, her straight Grecian eyebrows and fair complexion, form a
striking contrast to the gipsy-coloured skins and jetty tresses of her
companions. She looked like a visionary being skimming along the alleys,
and leaving the pot-bellied sopranos and dowdy Açafatas far behind,
wondering at her agility.

The garden is pleasant enough, situated upon an eminence, planted with
light flowering trees clustered with blossoms. Above their topmost
branches rises a broad majestic terrace, with marble balustrades of
shining whiteness and strange Oriental pattern. They design
indifferently in this country, but execute with great neatness and
precision. I never saw balustrades better hewn or chiseled than those
bordering the steps which lead up to the grand terrace. Its ample
surface is laid out in oblong compartments of marble, containing no very
great variety of heliotropes, aloes, geraniums, china-roses, and the
commonest plants of our green-houses. Such ponderous divisions have a
dismal effect; they reminded one of a place of interment, and it struck
me as if the deceased inhabitants of the adjoining palace were sprouting
up in the shape of prickly-pears, Indian-figs, gaudy holly-oaks, and
peppery capsicums.

The terrace is about fifteen hundred paces in length. Three copious
fountains give it an air of coolness, much increased by the waving of
tall acacias, exposed by their lofty situation to every breeze which
blows from the entrance of the Tagus, whose lovely azure appears to
great advantage between the quivering foliage.

The Irish girl and your faithful correspondent coursed each other like
children along the terrace, and when tired reposed under a group of
gigantic Brazilian aloes by one of the fountains. The swarthy party
detached its principal guardian, a gawky young priest, to observe all
the wanderings and riposos of us white people.

It was late, and the sun had set several minutes before I took my
departure. Black eyes and blue eyes seem horridly jealous of each other.
I fear my youthful and lively companion will suffer for having more
alertness than the Açafatas: she will be pinched, if I am not mistaken,
as the party return through the dark and intricate passages which join
the palace of the Ajuda to the gardens. Sad thought, the leaving such a
fair little being in the hands of fiery, despotic females, so greatly
her inferiors in complexion and delicacy.

They will take especial care, I warrant them, to fill the husband’s head
with suspicions less charitable than those inspired by Nossa Senhora do
Cabo.



LETTER IX.

     Consecration of the Bishop of Algarve.--Pathetic Music.--Valley of
     Alcantara.--Enormous Aqueduct.--Visit to the Marialva Palace.--Its
     much revered Masters.--Collection of Rarities.--The Viceroy of
     Algarve.--Polyglottery.--A Night-scene.--Modinhas.--Extraordinary
     Procession.--Blessings of Patriarchal Government.


3 June, 1787.

We went by special invitation to the royal Convent of the Necessidades,
belonging to the Oratorians, to see the ceremony of consecrating a
father of that order Bishop of Algarve, and were placed fronting the
altar in a gallery crowded with important personages in shining raiment,
the relations of the new prelate. The floor being spread with rich
Persian carpets and velvet cushions, it was pretty good kneeling; but,
notwithstanding this comfortable accommodation, I thought the ceremony
would never finish. There was a mighty glitter of crosses, censers,
mitres, and crosiers, continually in motion, as several bishops
assisted in all their pomp.

The music, which was extremely simple and pathetic, appeared to affect
the grandees in my neighbourhood very profoundly, for they put on woful
contrite countenances, thumped their breasts, and seemed to think
themselves, as most of them are, miserable sinners. Feeling oppressed by
the heat and the sermon, I made my retreat slyly and silently from the
splendid gallery, and passed through some narrow corridors, as warm as
flues, into the garden.

But this was only exchanging one scene of formality and closeness for
another. I panted after air, and to obtain that blessing escaped through
a little narrow door into the wild free valley of Alcantara. Here all
was solitude and humming of bees, and fresh gales blowing from the
entrance of the Tagus over the tufted tops of orange gardens. The
refreshing sound of water-wheels seemed to give me new life.

I set the sun at defiance, and advanced towards that part of the valley
across which stretches the enormous aqueduct you have heard so often
mentioned as the most colossal edifice of its kind in Europe. It has
only one row of pointed openings, and the principal arch, which crosses
a rapid brook, measures above two hundred and fifty feet in height. The
Pont de Garde and Caserta have several rows of arches one above the
other, which, by dividing the attention, take off from the size of the
whole. There is a vastness in this single range that strikes with
astonishment. I sat down on a fragment of rock, under the great arch,
and looked up to the vaulted stone-work so high above me with a
sensation of awe not unallied to fear; as if the building I gazed upon
was the performance of some immeasurable being endued with gigantic
strength, who might perhaps take a fancy to saunter about his works this
morning, and, in mere awkwardness, crush me to atoms.

Hard by the spot where I sat are several inclosures filled with canes,
eleven or twelve feet high: their fresh green leaves, agitated by the
feeblest wind, form a perpetual murmur. I am fond of this rustling, and
suffered myself to be lulled by it into a state of very necessary repose
after the fatigues of scrambling over crags and precipices.

As soon as I returned from my walk, Horne took me to dine with him, and
afterwards to the Marialva Palace to pay the Grand Prior a visit. The
court-yard, filled with shabby two-wheeled chaises, put me in mind of
the entrance of a French post-house; a recollection not weakened by the
sight of several ample heaps of manure, between which we made the best
of our way up the great staircase, and had near tumbled over a swingeing
sow and her numerous progeny, which escaped from under our legs with
bitter squeakings.

This hubbub announced our arrival, so out came the Grand Prior, his
nephew, the old Abade, and a troop of domestics. All great Portuguese
families are infested with herds of these, in general, ill-favoured
dependants; and none more than the Marialvas, who dole out every day
three hundred portions, at least, of rice and other eatables to as many
greedy devourers.

The Grand Prior had shed his pontifical garments and did the honours of
the house, and conducted us with much agility all over the apartments,
and through the _manège_, where the old Marquis, his brother, though at
a very advanced age, displays feats of the most consummate
horsemanship. He seems to have a decided taste for clocks, compasses,
and time-keepers. I counted no less than ten in his bedchamber; four or
five in full swing, making a loud hissing: they were chiming and
striking away (for it was exactly six) when I followed my conductor up
and down half-a-dozen staircases into a saloon hung with rusty damask.

A table in the centre of this antiquated apartment was covered with
rarities brought forth for our inspection; curious shell-work, ivory
crucifixes, models of ships, housings embroidered with feathers, and the
Lord knows what besides, stinking of camphor enough to knock one down.

Whilst we were staring with all our eyes and holding our handkerchiefs
to our noses, the Count of V----, Viceroy of Algarve, made his
appearance, in grand pea-green and pink and silver gala, straddling and
making wry faces as if some disagreeable accident had befallen him. He
was, however, in a most gracious mood, and received our eulogiums upon
his relation, the new bishop, with much complacency. Our conversation
was limpingly carried on in a great variety of broken languages.
Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French, and English, had each their turn
in rapid succession. The subject of all this polyglottery was the
glories and piety of John the Fifth, regret for the extinction of the
Jesuits, and the reverse for the death of Pombal, whose memory he holds
in something not distantly removed from execration. This flow of
eloquence was accompanied by the strangest, most buffoonical grimaces
and slobberings I ever beheld, for the Viceroy having a perennial
moistness of mouth, drivels at every syllable.

One must not, however, decide too hastily upon outward appearances. This
slobbering, canting personage, is a distinguished statesman and good
officer, pre-eminent amongst the few who have seen service and given
proofs of prowess and capacity.

To escape the long-winded narrations which were pouring warm into my
ear, I took refuge near a harpsichord, where Policarpio, one of the
first tenors in the Queen’s chapel, was singing and accompanying
himself. The curtains of the door of an adjoining dark apartment being
half drawn, gave me a transient glimpse of Donna Henriquetta de L----,
Don Pedro’s sister, advancing one moment and retiring the next, eager to
approach and examine us exotic beings, but not venturing to enter the
saloon during her mother’s absence. She appeared to me a most
interesting girl, with eyes full of bewitching languor;--but of what do
I talk? I only saw her pale and evanescent, as one fancies one sees
objects in a dream. A group of lovely children (her sisters, I believe)
sat at her feet upon the ground, resembling genii partially concealed by
folds of drapery in some grand allegorical picture by Rubens or Paul
Veronese.

Night approaching, lights glimmered on the turrets, terraces, and every
part of the strange huddle of buildings of which this morisco-looking
palace is composed; half the family were engaged in reciting the
litanies of saints, the other in freaks and frolics, perhaps of no very
edifying nature: the monotonous staccato of the guitar, accompanied by
the low soothing murmur of female voices singing modinhas, formed
altogether a strange though not unpleasant combination of sounds.

I was listening to them with avidity, when a glare of flambeaus, and
the noise of a splashing and dashing of water, called us out upon the
verandas, in time to witness a procession scarcely equalled since the
days of Noah. I doubt whether his ark contained a more heterogeneous
collection of animals than issued from a scalera with fifty oars, which
had just landed the old Marquis of M. and his son Don Josè, attended by
a swarm of musicians, poets, bullfighters, grooms, monks, dwarfs, and
children of both sexes, fantastically dressed.

The whole party, it seems, were returned from a pilgrimage to some
saint’s nest or other on the opposite shore of the Tagus. First jumped
out a hump-backed dwarf, blowing a little squeaking trumpet three or
four inches long; then a pair of led captains, apparently commanded by a
strange, old, swaggering fellow in a showy uniform, who, I was told, had
acted the part of a sort of brigadier-general in some sort of an island.
Had it been Barataria, Sancho would soon have sent him about his
business, for, if we believe the scandalous chronicle of Lisbon, a more
impudent buffoon, parasite, and pilferer seldom existed.

Close at his heels stalked a savage-looking monk, as tall as Samson,
and two Capuchin friars, heavily laden, but with what sort of provision
I am ignorant; next came a very slim and sallow-faced apothecary, in
deep sables, completely answering in gait and costume the figure one
fancies to one’s self of Senhor Apuntador, in Gil Blas, followed by a
half-crazed improvisatore, spouting verses at us as he passed under the
balustrades against which we were leaning.

He was hardly out of hearing before a confused rabble of watermen and
servants with bird-cages, lanterns, baskets of fruit, and chaplets of
flowers, came gamboling along to the great delight of a bevy of
children; who, to look more like the inhabitants of Heaven than even
Nature designed, had light fluttering wings attached to their
rose-coloured shoulders. Some of these little theatrical angels were
extremely beautiful, and had their hair most coquettishly arranged in
ringlets.

The old Marquis is doatingly fond of them; night and day they remain
with him, imparting all the advantages that can possibly be derived from
fresh and innocent breath to a declining constitution. The patriarch of
the Marialvas has followed this regimen many years, and also some
others which are scarcely credible. Having a more than Roman facility of
swallowing an immense profusion of dainties, and making room continually
for a fresh supply, he dines alone every day between two silver canteens
of extraordinary magnitude. Nobody in England would believe me if I
detailed the enormous repast I saw spread out for him; but let your
imagination loose upon all that was ever conceived in the way of
gormandizing, and it will not in this case exceed the reality.

As soon as the contents, animal and vegetable, of the principal scalera,
and three or four other barges in its train, had been deposited in their
respective holes, corners, and roosting-places, I received an invitation
from the old Marquis to partake of a collation in his apartment. Not
less, I am certain, than fifty servants were in waiting, and exclusive
of half-a-dozen wax-torches, which were borne in state before us, above
a hundred tapers of different sizes were lighted up in the range of
rooms, intermingled with silver braziers and cassolettes diffusing a
very pleasant perfume. I found the master of all this magnificence most
courteous, affable, and engaging. There is an urbanity and good-humour
in his looks, gestures, and tone of voice, that prepossesses
instantaneously in his favour, and justifies the universal popularity he
enjoys, and the affectionate name of Father, by which the Queen and
Royal Family often address him. All the favours of the crown have been
heaped upon him by the present and preceding sovereigns, a tide of
prosperity uninterrupted even during the grand vizariat of Pombal. “Act
as you judge wisest with the rest of my nobility,” used to say the King
Don Joseph to this redoubted minister; “but beware how you interfere
with the Marquis of Marialva.”

In consequence of this decided predilection, the Marialva Palace became
in many cases a sort of rallying point, an asylum for the oppressed; and
its master, in more than one instance, a shield against the thunderbolts
of a too powerful minister. The recollections of these times seem still
to be kept alive; for the heart-felt respect, the filial adoration, I
saw paid the old Marquis, was indeed most remarkable; his slightest
glances were obeyed, and the person on whom they fell seemed gratified
and animated; his sons, the Marquis of Tancos and Don Josè de Meneses,
never approached to offer him anything without bending the knee; and the
Conde de Villaverde, the heir of the great house of Anjeja, as well as
the Viceroy of Algarve, stood in the circle which was formed around him,
receiving a kind or gracious word with the same thankful earnestness as
courtiers who hang upon the smiles and favour of their sovereign. I
shall long remember the grateful sensations with which this scene of
reciprocal kindness filled me; it appeared an interchange of amiable
sentiments; beneficence diffused without guile or affectation, and
protection received without sullen or abject servility.

How preferable is patriarchal government of this nature to the cold
theories pedantic sophists would establish, and which, should success
attend their selfish atheistical ravings, bid fair to undermine the best
and surest props of society! When parents cease to be honoured by their
children, and the feelings of grateful subordination in those of
helpless age or condition are unknown, kings will soon cease to reign,
and republics to be governed by the councils of experience; anarchy,
rapine, and massacre will walk the earth, and the abode of dæmons be
transferred from hell to our unfortunate planet.



LETTER X.

     Festival of the Corpo de Deos.--Striking decoration of the
     streets.--The Patriarchal Cathedral.--Coming forth of the Sacrament
     in awful state.--Gorgeous Procession.--Bewildering confusion of
     sounds.


7th June.

A most sonorous peal of bells, an alarming rattle of drums, and a
piercing flourish of trumpets, roused me at daybreak. You are too
piously disposed to be ignorant that this day is the festival of the
Corpo de Deos. I had half a mind to have stayed at home, turning over a
curious collection of Portuguese chronicles the Prior of Avis has just
sent to me; but I was told such wonders of the expected procession that
I could not refuse giving myself a little trouble in order to witness
them.

Everybody was gone before I set out, and the streets of the suburb I
inhabit, as well as those in the city through which I passed in my way
to the patriarchal cathedral, were entirely deserted. A pestilence
seemed to have swept the Great Square and the busy environs of the
Exchange and India House; for even vagrants, scavengers, and beggars, in
the last state of decrepitude, had all hobbled away to the scene of
action. A few miserable curs sniffing at offals alone remained in the
deserted streets, and I saw no human being at any of the windows, except
half-a-dozen scabby children blubbering at being kept at home.

The murmur of the crowds, assembled round the _patriarchale_, reached us
a long while before we got into the midst of them, for we advanced with
difficulty between rows of soldiers drawn up in battle array. Upon
turning a dark angle, overshadowed by the high buildings of the seminary
adjoining the patriarchale, we discovered houses, shops, and palaces,
all metamorphosed into tents, and hung from top to bottom with red
damask, tapestry, satin coverlids, and fringed counterpanes glittering
with gold. I thought myself in the midst of the Mogul’s encampment, so
pompously described by Bernier.

The front of the Great Church in particular was most magnificently
curtained; it rises from a vast flight of steps, which were covered
to-day with the yeomen of the Queen’s guard in their rich
party-coloured velvet dresses, and a multitude of priests bearing a
gorgeous variety of painted and silken banners; flocks of sallow monks,
white, brown, and black, kept pouring in continually, like turkeys
driving to market.

This part of the holy display lasting a tiresome while, I grew weary,
and left the balcony, where we were placed most advantageously, and got
into the church. High mass was performing with awful pomp, incense
ascending in clouds, and the light of innumerable tapers blazing on the
diamonds of the ostensory, just elevated by the patriarch with trembling
devout hands to receive the mysterious wafer.

Before the close of the ceremony, I regained my window, to have a full
view of the coming forth of the Sacrament. All was expectation and
silence in the people. The guards had ranged them on each side of the
steps before the entrance of the church. At length a shower of aromatic
herbs and flowers announced the approach of the patriarch, bearing the
host under a regal canopy, surrounded by grandees, and preceded by a
long train of mitred figures, their hands joined in prayer, their
scarlet and purple vestments sweeping the ground, their attendants
bearing croziers, crosses, and other insignia of pontifical grandeur.

The procession slowly descending the flights of stairs to the sound of
choirs and the distant thunder of artillery, lost itself in a winding
street decorated with embroidered hangings, and left me with my senses
in a whirl, and my eyes dazzled, as if awakened from a vision of
celestial splendour.... My head swims at this moment, and my ears tingle
with a confusion of sounds, bells, voices, and the echoes of cannon,
prolonged by mountains and wafted over waters.



LETTER XI.

     Dinner at the country-house of Mr. S----.--His Brazilian
     wife.--Magnificent repast.--A tragic damsel.


11th June, 1787.

To-day we were engaged to dine in the country at a villa belonging to a
gentleman, whose volley of names, when pronounced with the true
Portuguese twang, sounds like an expectoration--Josè Street-Arriaga-Brum
da Silveira. Our hospitable host is of Irish extraction, boasts a
stature of six feet, proportionable breadth, a ruddy countenance,
herculean legs, and all the exterior attributes, at least, of that
enterprising race, who often have the luck of marrying great fortunes.
About a year or two ago he bore off a wealthy Brazilian heiress, and is
now master of a large estate and a fubsical, squat wife, with a head not
unlike that of Holofernes in old tapestry, and shoulders that act the
part of a platter with rather too much exactitude. Poor soul! to be
sure, she is neither a Venus nor a Hebe, has a rough lip, and a manly
voice, and I fear is somewhat inclined to be dropsical; but her smiles
are frequent and fondling, and she cleaves to her husband with great
perseverance.

He is an odd character, will accept of no employment, civil or military,
and affects a bullying frankness, that I should think must displease
very much in this country, where independence either in fortune or
sentiment is a crime seldom if ever tolerated.

Mr. S---- likes a display, and the repast he gave us was magnificent;
sixty dishes at least, eight smoking roasts, and every ragout, French,
English, and Portuguese, that could be thought of. The dessert appeared
like the model of a fortification. The principal cake-tower measured, I
dare say, three feet perpendicular in height. The company was not equal
either in number or consequence to the splendour of the entertainment.

Had not Miss Sill and Bezerra been luckily in my neighbourhood, I should
have perished with _ennui_. One stately damsel, with portentous
eyebrows, and looks that reproached the male part of the assembly with
inattention, was the only lady of the palace Mr. S---- had invited.

I expected to have met the whole troop of my Botanic Garden
acquaintance, and to have escorted them about the vineyards and
citron-orchards which surround this villa; but, alas! I was not destined
to any such amusing excursion. The tragic damsel, who I am told has been
unhappy in her tender attachments, took my arm, and never quitted it
during a long walk through Mr. S----’s ample possessions. We conversed
in Italian, and paid the birds that were singing, and the rills that
were murmuring, many fine compliments in a sort of prose run mad,
borrowed from operas and serenatas, the Aminto of Tasso, and the Adone
of Marini.

The sun was just diffusing his last rays over the distant rocks of
Cintra, the air balsamic, and the paths amongst the vines springing with
fresh herbage and a thousand flowers revived by last night’s rain.
Giving up the narrow tract which leads through these rural regions to
the signora, I stalked by her side in a furrow well garnished with
nettles, acanthus, and dwarf aloes, stinging and scratching myself at
every step. This penance, and the disappointment I was feeling most
acutely, put me not a little out of humour; I regretted so delicious an
evening should pass away in such forlorn company, and lacerating my legs
to so little purpose. How should I have enjoyed rambling with the young
Irish girl about these pleasant clover paths, between festoons of
luxuriant leaves and tendrils, not fastened to stiff poles and stumpy
stakes as in France and Switzerland, but climbing up light canes eight
or ten feet in height!

Pinioned as I was, you may imagine I felt no inclination to prolong a
walk which already had been prolonged unconscionably. I escaped tea and
playing at voltarete, made a solemn bow to the solemn damsel, and got
home before it was quite dark.



LETTER XII.

     Pass the day at Belem.--Visit the neighbouring
     Monastery.--Habitation of King Emanuel.--A gold Custodium of
     exquisite workmanship.--The Church.--Bonfires on the edge of the
     Tagus.--Fire-works.--Images of the Holy One of Lisbon.


June 12th, 1787.

We passed the day quite _en famille_ at Belem with a whole legion of
Marialvas. Some reverend fathers, of I know not what community, had sent
them immense messes of soup, very thick, slab, and oily; a portion
which, it seems, the faithful are accustomed to swallow on the eve of
St. Anthony’s festival.

As soon as I decently could, after a collation which was served under an
awning stretched over one of the terraces, I stole out of the circle of
lords, ladies, dwarfs, monks, buffoons, bullies, and almoners, to visit
the neighbouring monastery. I ascended the great stairs, constructed at
the expense of the Infanta Catherine, King Charles the Second’s
dowager, and after walking in the cloisters of Emanuel, looked into the
library, which is far from being in the cleanest or best ordered
condition. The spacious and lofty cloisters present a striking spread of
arches, which, though not in the purest style, attract the eye by their
delicately-carved arabesque ornament, and the warm reddish hue of the
marble. The corridor, into which open an almost endless range of cells,
is full five hundred feet in length. Each window has a commodious
resting-place, where the monks loll at their ease and enjoy the view of
the river.

In a little dark treasury communicating by winding-stairs with that part
of the edifice tradition points out as the habitation of King Emanuel,
when at certain holy seasons he retired within these precincts, I was
shown by candlelight some extremely curious plate, particularly a
custodium, made in the year 1506, of the pure gold of Quiloa. Nothing
can be more beautiful as a specimen of elaborate gothic sculpture, than
this complicated enamelled mass of flying buttresses and fretted
pinnacles, with the twelve Apostles in their niches, under canopies
formed of ten thousand wreaths and ramifications.

From this gloomy recess, I was conducted to the church, one of the
largest in Portugal, vast, solemn, and fantastic, like the interior of
the Temple of Jerusalem, as I have seen it figured in some old German
Bibles. There was little, however, in the altars or monuments worth any
very minute investigation.

It fell dark before I went out at the great porch, and found the wide
space before it beginning to catch a vivid gleam from a line of bonfires
on the edge of the Tagus. I could hardly reach my carriage without being
singed by squibs and crackers, and wished myself out the moment I got
into it, a rocket having shot up just under the noses of my mules and
scared them terribly.

Unless St. Anthony lulls me asleep by a miracle, I must expect no rest
to-night, there is such a whizzing of fireworks, blazing of bonfires and
flourishing of French horns in honour of to-morrow, the five hundred and
fifty-fifth anniversary of that memorable day, when the Holy One of
Lisbon passed by a soft transition to the joys of Paradise. I saw his
image at the door of almost every house and even hovel of this populous
capital, placed on an altar, and decked with a profusion of wax-lights
and flowers.



LETTER XIII.

     The New Church of St. Anthony.--Sprightly Music.--Enthusiastic
     Sermon.--The good Prior of Avis.--Visit to the Carthusian Convent
     of Cachiez.--Spectres of the Order.--Striking effigy of the
     Saviour.--A young and melancholy Carthusian.--The Cemetery.


June 13th, 1787.

I slept better than I expected: the Saint was propitious, and during the
night cooled the ardour of his votaries and the flames of their bonfires
by a vernal shower, which pattered agreeably this morning amongst the
vineleaves of my garden. The clouds dispersed about eight o’clock, and
at nine, just as I ascended the steps of the new church built over the
identical house where St. Anthony was born, the sun shone out in all its
splendour.

I cannot say this edifice recalled to my mind the magnificent sanctuary
of Padua, which five years ago on this very day impressed my imagination
so forcibly. Here are no constellations of golden lamps depending by
glittering chains from a mysterious vaulted ceiling, no arcades of
alabaster, no sculptured marbles. The church is supported by two rows of
pillars neatly carved in stone, but wretchedly proportioned. Over the
high altar, where stands the revered image in the midst of a bright
illumination, was stretched a canopy of flowered velvet. This drapery,
richly fringed and tasseled, marks out the spot formerly occupied by the
chamber of the saint, and receives an amber-light from a row of tall
casement windows, the woodwork gleaming with burnished gold.

A great many broad English faces burst forth from amongst the crowd of
profane vulgar at the portal of the church, and all their eyes were
directed to their enthusiastic countryman, but he was not to be stared
out of a decent countenance.

The ceremony was extremely pompous. A prelate of the first rank, with a
considerable detachment of priests from the royal chapel, officiated to
the sounds of lively jigs and ranting minuets, better calculated to set
a parcel of water-drinkers a dancing in a pump-room, than to direct the
movements of a pontiff and his assistants.

After much indifferent music, vocal and instrumental, performed full
gallop in the most rapid allegro, Frè Joaô Jacinto, a famous preacher,
mounted the pulpit, lifted up hands and eyes, and poured forth a torrent
of sounding phrases in honour of St. Anthony. What would I not give for
such a voice?--it would almost have reached from Dan unto Beersheba!

The Father has undoubtedly great powers of elocution, and none of that
canting, nasal whine so common in the delivery of monkish sermons. He
treated kings, tetrarchs, and conquerors, the heroes and sages of
antiquity, with ineffable contempt; reduced their palaces and
fortifications to dust, their armies to pismires, their imperial
vestments to cobwebs, and impressed all his audience, except the
heretical squinters at the door, with the most thorough conviction of
St. Anthony’s superiority over these objects of an erring and impious
admiration.

“Happy,” exclaimed the preacher, “were those gothic ages, falsely called
ages of barbarism and ignorance, when the hearts of men, uncorrupted by
the delusive beverage of philosophy, were open to the words of truth
falling like honey from the mouths of saints and confessors, such words
as distilled from the lips of Anthony, yet a suckling hanging at the
breast in this very spot. It was here the spirit of the Most High
descended upon him, here that he conceived the sublime intention of
penetrating into the most turbulent parts of Europe, setting the
inclemency of seasons and the malice of men at defiance, and sprinkling
amongst lawless nations the seeds of grace and repentance. There, my
brethren, is the door out of which he issued. Do you not see him in the
habit of a Menino de Coro, smiling with all the graces of innocence, and
dispensing with his infant hands to a group of squalid children the
portion of nourishment he has just received from his mother?

“But Anthony, from the first dawn of his existence, lived for others,
and not for himself: he forewent even the luxury of meditation, and
instead of retiring into a peaceful cell, rushed into the world,
helpless and unprotected, lifting high the banner of the Cross amidst
perils and uproar, appeasing wars, settling differences both public and
domestic, exhorting at the risk of his life ruffians and plunderers to
make restitution, and armed misers, guarding their coffers with bloody
swords, to open their hearts and their hands to the distresses of the
widow and the fatherless.

“Anthony ever sighed after the crown of martyrdom, and had long
entertained an ardent desire of passing over into Morocco, and exposing
himself to the fury of its bigoted and cruel sovereign; but the commands
of his superior retain him on the point of embarkation; he makes a
sacrifice of even this most laudable and glorious ambition; he traverses
Spain, repairs to Assisi, embraces the rigid order of the great St.
Francis, and continues to his last hour administering consolation to the
dejected, fortifying their hopes of heaven, and confirming the faith of
such as were wavering or deluded by a succession of prodigies. The dead
are raised, the sick are healed, the sea is calmed by a glance of St
Anthony; even the lowest ranks of the creation are attracted by
eloquence more than human, and give marks of sensibility. Fish swim in
shoals to hear the word of the Lord; and to convince the obdurate and
those accursed whose hearts the false reasoning of the world had
hardened, mules and animals the most perversely obstinate humble
themselves to the earth when Anthony holds forth the Sacrament, and
acknowledge the presence of the Divinity.”

The sermon ended, fiddling began anew with redoubled vigour, and I,
disgusted with such unseasonable levity, retired home in dudgeon. This
little cloud of peevishness was soon dissipated by the cheering presence
of the good Prior of Avis, than whom there exists not, perhaps, in this
world a more benign, evangelical character; one who gives glory to God
with less ostentation, or bears a more unaffected goodwill towards men.
This excellent prelate had been passing his morning, not in attending
pompous ceremonies, but in consoling the sick and relieving the
indigent; climbing up to their miserable chambers to afford assistance
in the name of the saint whose festival was celebrating, and whose fame,
for every charitable beneficent act, had been handed down by the
inhabitants of Lisbon from father to child, through a long series of
generations.

Our discourse was not of a nature to incline me to relish pomps and
vanities. I waved seeing the procession which was expected to pass
through the principal streets of the city, and, accompanied by my
reverend friend, enjoyed the serenity of the evening on the shore of
Belem. We stopped as we passed by the Marialva palace, and took up Don
Pedro and his nursing father, the old Abade, who proposed a visit to the
Carthusian convent of Cachiez.

In about half an hour we were set down before the church, which fronts
the royal gardens, and were ushered into a solemn, silent quadrangle.
Several spectres of the order were gliding about the cloisters, which
branch off from this court. In the middle is a marble fountain, shaded
by pyramids of clipped box; around are seven or eight small chapels; one
of which contains a coloured image of the Saviour in the last dreadful
agonies of his passion, covered with livid bruises and corrupted gore.

Whilst we were examining this too faithful effigy, some of the monks, by
leave of their superior, gathered around us; one of them, a tall
interesting figure, attracted my attention by the deep melancholy which
sat upon his features. Upon inquiry, I learned he was only
two-and-twenty years of age, of illustrious parentage, and lively
talents; but the immediate cause of his having sought these mansions of
stillness and mortification, the Grand Prior seemed loth to communicate.

I could not help observing, as this young victim stood before me, and I
contemplated the evening light thrown on the arcades of the quadrangle,
how many setting suns he was likely to behold wasting their gleams upon
these walls, and what a wearisome succession of years he had in all
probability devoted himself to consume within their precincts. The eyes
of the good prior filled with tears, Verdeil shuddered, and the Abade,
forgetting the superstitious part he generally acts in religious places,
exclaimed loudly against the toleration of human sacrifices, and the
folly of permitting those to renounce the world, whose youth
incapacitates them from making a due estimate of its sorrows or
advantages. As for Don Pedro, his serious disposition received
additional gloom from the objects with which we were environed.

The chill gust that blew from an arched hall where the fathers are
interred, and whose pavement returned a hollow sound as we walked over
it, struck him with horror. It was the first time of his entering a
Carthusian convent, and, to my surprise, he appeared ignorant of the
severities of the order.

The sun set before we regained our carriage, and our conversation the
whole way home partook of the impression which the scenery we had been
contemplating inspired.



LETTER XIV.

     Curious succession of visiters.--A Seraphic Doctor.--Monsenhor
     Aguilar.--Mob of old hags, children, and ragamuffins.--Visit to the
     Theatre in the Rua d’os Condes.--The Archbishop
     Confessor.--Brazilian Modinhas.--Bewitching nature of that
     music.--Nocturnal processions.--Enthusiasm of the young Conde de
     Villanova.--No accounting for fancies.


14th June, 1787.

It was my lot this afternoon to receive a curious succession of
visitors. First came Pombal, who looked worn down with gay living and
late hours; but there is an ease and fashion in his address not common
in this country. Though he possesses one of the largest landed estates
in the kingdom, (about one hundred and twenty thousand crowns a-year,)
he wished me to understand that his dread father, the scourge and terror
of the noblest houses in Portugal, the sole dispenser during so many
years of the royal treasure, died, notwithstanding, in distressed
circumstances, loaded with debts contracted in supporting the dignity
of his post.

The next who did me the honour of a visit was the Judge Conservator of
the English factory, Joaô Telles, a relation, legitimate or illegitimate
(I know not exactly which), of the Penalvas. This man, who has risen to
one of the highest posts of the law by the sole strength of his
abilities, has a nervous, original style of expression, which put me in
mind of Lord Thurlow; but to all this vigour of character and diction,
he joins the pliability and subtleness of a serpent; and those he cannot
take by storm, he is sure of overcoming by every soothing art of
flattery and insinuation.

As soon as he was departed, entered a pair of monks with a basket of
sweetmeats in cut paper, from a good lady abbess, beseeching me to
portion out two sweet virgins as God’s spouses in some neighbouring
monastery.

They were scarcely dismissed, before Father Theodore d’Almeida and
another of his brethren were ushered in. The whites of their eyes alone
were visible, nor could Whitfield himself, the original Doctor Squintum
of Foote, have squinted more scientifically.

I was all attention to Father Theodore’s seraphic discourse; so
excellent an opportunity of hearing a first-rate specimen of
hypocritical cant was not to be neglected. No sooner had the fathers
been conducted to the stairshead with due ceremony, than Monsenhor
Aguilar, one of the prelates of the Patriarchal Cathedral, was
announced. He confirmed me in the opinion I entertained of Father
Theodore. No person can accuse Aguilar of being a hypocrite. He lays
himself but too much open, and treats the church from which he derives a
handsome maintenance, not as a patroness, but as an humble companion;
the constant butt and object of his sarcasms. In Portugal, even in the
year 1787, such conduct is madness, and I fear will expose him one day
or other to severe persecution.

We were roused from a peaceful dish of tea by a loud hubbub in the
street, and running to the balcony, found a beastly mob of old hags,
children, and ragamuffins assembled, headed by half-a-dozen drummers,
and as many negroes in scarlet jackets, blowing French-horns with
unusual vehemence, and pointing them directly at the house. I was
wondering at this Jericho fashion of besieging one’s door, and drawing
back to avoid being singed by a rocket which whizzed along within an
inch of my nose, when one of the servants entered with a crucifix on a
silver salver, and a mighty kind message from the nuns of the Convent of
the Sacrament, who had sent their musicians with trimbrels and
fireworks, to invite us to some grand doings at their convent, in honour
of the Festival of the Heart of Jesus. Really, these church parties
begin to lose in my eyes great part of the charm which novelty gave
them. I have had pretty nearly my fill of motets, and Kyrie eleisons,
and incense, and sweetmeats, and sermons.

That heretic Verdeil, who would almost as soon be in hell at once as in
such a cloying heaven, would not let me rest till I went with him to the
theatre in the Rua d’os Condes, in order to dissipate by a little
profane air the fumes of so much holiness. The play afforded me more
disgust than amusement; the theatre is low and narrow, and the actors,
for there are no actresses, below criticism. Her Majesty’s absolute
commands having swept females off the stage, their parts are acted by
calvish young fellows. Judge what a pleasing effect this metamorphosis
must produce, especially in the dancers, where one sees a stout
shepherdess in virgin white, with a soft blue beard, and a prominent
collar-bone, clenching a nosegay in a fist that would almost have
knocked down Goliah, and a train of milk-maids attending her enormous
foot-steps, tossing their petticoats over their heads at every step.
Such sprawling, jerking, and ogling I never saw before, and hope never
to see again.

We were heartily sick of the performance before it was half finished,
and the night being serene and pleasant, were tempted to take a ramble
in the Great Square, which received a faint gleam from the lights in the
apartments of the palace, every window being thrown open to catch the
breeze. The Archbishop Confessor displayed his goodly person at one of
the balconies; from a clown, this now most important personage became a
common soldier, from a common soldier a corporal, from a corporal a
monk, in which station he gave so many proofs of toleration and
good-humour, that Pombal, who happened to stumble upon him by one of
those chances which set all calculation at defiance, judged him
sufficiently shrewd, jovial, and ignorant, to make a very harmless and
comfortable confessor to her Majesty, then Princess of Brazil: since her
accession to the throne, he is become Archbishop, _in partibus_, Grand
Inquisitor, and the first spring in the present Government of Portugal.
I never saw a sturdier fellow. He seems to anoint himself with the oil
of gladness, to laugh and grow fat in spite of the critical situation of
affairs in this kingdom, and the just fears all its true patriots
entertain of seeing it once more relapse into a Spanish province.

At a window immediately over his right reverence’s shining forehead, we
spied out the Lacerdas, two handsome sisters, maids of honour to the
Queen, waving their hands to us very invitingly. This was encouragement
enough for us to run up a vast many flights of stairs to their
apartment, which was crowded with nephews and nieces and cousins
clustering round two very elegant young women, who, accompanied by their
singing-master, a little square friar, with greenish eyes, were warbling
Brazilian modinhas.

Those who have never heard this original sort of music, must and will
remain ignorant of the most bewitching melodies that ever existed since
the days of the Sybarites. They consist of languid interrupted measures,
as if the breath was gone with excess of rapture, and the soul panting
to meet the kindred soul of some beloved object. With a childish
carelessness they steal into the heart, before it has time to arm itself
against their enervating influence; you fancy you are swallowing milk,
and are admitting the poison of voluptuousness into the closest recesses
of your existence. At least, such beings as feel the power of harmonious
sounds are doing so; I won’t answer for hard-eared, phlegmatic northern
animals.

An hour or two passed away almost imperceptibly in the pleasing delirium
these syren notes inspired, and it was not without regret I saw the
company disperse and the spell dissolve. The ladies of the apartment
having received a summons to attend her Majesty’s supper, curtsied us
off very gracefully, and vanished.

In our way home we met the Sacrament, enveloped in a glare of light,
marching in state to pay some sick person a farewell visit; and that
hopeful young nobleman, the Conde de Villa Nova,[13] preceding the
canopy in a scarlet mantle, and tinkling a silver bell. He is always in
close attendance upon the Host, and passes the flower of his days in
this singular species of danglement. No lover was ever more jealous of
his mistress than this ingenuous youth of his bell. He cannot endure any
other person should give it vibration. The parish officers of the
extensive and populous district in which his palace is situated, from
respect to his birth and opulence, indulge him in this caprice, and
indeed a more perseverant bell-bearer they could not have chosen. At all
hours and in all weathers he is ready to perform this holy office. In
the dead of the night, or in the most intense heat of the day, out he
issues and down he dives, or up he climbs, to any dungeon or garret
where spiritual assistance of this nature is demanded.

It has been again and again observed, that there is no accounting for
fancies. Every person has his own, which he follows to the best of his
means and abilities. The old Marialva’s delights are centered between
his two silver recipiendaries; the Marquis his son in dancing attendance
with the Queen; and Villa Nova, in announcing with his bell to all true
believers the approach of celestial majesty. The present rage of the
scribbler of all these extravagances is modinhas, and under its
prevalence he feels half-tempted to set sail for the Brazils, the native
land of these enchanting compositions, to live in tents, such as the
Chevalier de Parny describes in his agreeable little voyage, and swing
in hammocks, or glide over smooth mats surrounded by bands of youthful
minstrels, diffusing at every step the perfume of jasmine and roses.



LETTER XV.

     Excessive sultriness of Lisbon.--Night sounds of the city.--Public
     gala in the garden of the Conde de Villa Nova.--Visit to the Anjeja
     Palace.--The heir of the family.--Marvellous narrations of a young
     priest.--Convent of Savoyard nuns.--Father Theodore’s
     chickens.--Sequestered group of beauties.--Singing of the Scarlati.


29th June, 1787.

The bright sunshine which has lately been our portion, glorious as it
is, begins to tire me. Twenty times a day I cannot help wishing myself
extended at full-length upon the fresh herbage of some shady English
valley, where fairies gambol in the twilights of Midsummer, whispering
in the ears of their sleeping favourites the good or evil fortunes which
await them. It is too hot for these oracular little elvish beings in
Portugal, one must not here expect their inspirations; but would to
Heaven some revelation of this or any other nature had warned me off in
time, from the blinding dust and excessive sultriness of Lisbon and its
neighbourhood. How silly, when one is well and cool, to gad abroad, in
the vain hope of making what is really best, better. Depend upon it,
there is more vernal delight and joy in our green hills and copses, than
in all these stunted olive fields and sun-burnt promontories.

We have a homely saying, that what is poison to one man is meat to
another, and true enough; for these days and nights of glowing
temperature, which oppress me beyond endurance, are the delight and
boast of the inhabitants of this capital. The heat seems not only to
have new venomed the stings of the fleas and the musquitoes, but to have
drawn out, the whole night long, all the human ephemera of Lisbon. They
frisk, and dance, and tinkle their guitars from sunset to sunrise. The
dogs, too, keep yelping and howling without intermission; and what with
the bellowing of litanies by parochial processions, the whizzing of
fireworks, which devotees are perpetually letting off in honour of some
member or other of the celestial hierarchy, and the squabbles of
bullying rake-hells, who scour the streets in search of adventures,
there is no getting a wink of sleep, even if the heat would allow it.

As to those quiet nocturnal parties, where ingenuous youths rest their
heads, not on the lap of earth, but on that of their mistresses, who are
soothingly employed in delivering the jetty locks of their lovers from
too abundant a population, I have nothing to say against them, nor am I
much disturbed by the dashing sound of a few downfalls[14] from the
windows; but these dog-howlings exceed every annoyance of the kind I
ever endured, and give no slight foretaste of the infernal regions.

Nothing but amusement and racket being thought of here at this season
(when to celebrate St. Peter’s festival with all the noise and
extravagance in your power, is not more a profane inclination than a
pious duty,) that simpleton, the Conde de Villa Nova, opened his garden
last night to the nob and mob-ility of Lisbon. There was a dull
illumination of paper lanterns, and a sort of pavilion awkwardly
constructed for dancing, beneath which the prettiest French and English
mantua-makers, milliners, and abigails of the metropolis, figured away
in cotillons with the Duke of Cadaval and some other young men of the
first distinction, who, like many as hopeful in our own capital, are
never at their ease but in low company. Two or three of my servants
accompanied my tailor to the fête, and returned enraptured with the
affable pleasing manners of the foreign milliners and native nobility.

I should have been most happy to remain at home, in the shade of my
green blinds, giving ear, through mere laziness, to any nonsense that
anybody chose to say to me; but we had been long engaged to dine with
Don Diego de Noronha, at the Anjeja Palace.

When we arrived at our destination, we found the heir of the family
surrounded by priests and tutors, learning to look out at the window,
the chief employment of Portuguese fidalgo life. Oh what a precious
collection of stories did I hear at this attic banquet! There happened
to be amongst the company a young oaf of a priest, from I forget what
university (I hope not Coimbra), who kept on during the whole dinner
favouring us with marvellous narrations, such as the late Queen’s
pounding a pearl of inestimable value, to swallow in medical potions;
and that one of the nuns of the Convent of the Sacrament, having
intrigued with old Beelzebub _in propria persona_, had been sent to the
Inquisition, and the window through which his infernal majesty had
entered upon this gallant exploit, walled up and painted over with red
crosses. The same precautionary decoration, continued he, has been
bestowed upon every opening in the façade, so that no demon, however
sharp-set, can get in again. He would fain also have made us believe,
that a woman very fair and plump to the eye, with an overflowing breast
of milk, who took in sucklings to nurse cheaper than anybody else,
regularly made away with them, and was now in the dungeons of the holy
office, accused of having minced up above a score of innocents!

Heaven forbid I should detail any further particulars of our
table-talk; if I did, you would be finely surfeited.

After dinner the company dispersed, some to their couches, some to hear
a sonata on the dulcimer, accompanied on the jew’s harp by a couple of
dwarfs; the heir-apparent to his beloved window; and Verdeil and I to a
convent of Savoyard nuns, at Belem, the coolest, cleanest retirement in
the whole neighbourhood, and blessed into the bargain by the especial
patronage and inspection of Father Theodore d’Almeida. His reverence, it
seems, had been the principal instrument, under Providence, of
transplanting these blessed sprouts of holiness from the Convent of the
Visitation at Annecy to the glowing climate of Portugal.

As I had just received a sugary epistle from this paragon of piety,
recommending his favourite establishment in several pages of ardent
panegyric, he could do no less than come forth from his interior nest,
and bid us welcome with a countenance arrayed in the sweetest smiles,
though I dare say he wished us at old scratch for our intrusion.

“Poor things,” said he, speaking of the chickens under education in this
coop, “we do all we can to improve their tender minds and their
guileless tongues in foreign languages. Sister Theresa has an admirable
knack for teaching arithmetic; our venerable mother is remarkably
well-bottomed in grammar, and Sister Francisca Salesia, whom I had the
happiness to bring over from Lyons, is not only a most pure and
persuasive moralist, but is acknowledged to be one of the first needles
in Christendom, so we do tolerably well in embroidery. In music we are
no great proficients. We allow of no modinhas, no opera airs; a plain
hymn is all you must expect here; in short, we are ill-fitted to receive
such distinguished visiters, and have nothing the world would call
interesting to recommend us; but then, I, their unworthy confessor, must
allow that such sweet, clean consciences as I meet with in this asylum
are treasures beyond all that the Indies can furnish.”

Both Verdeil and myself, conscious of our own extreme unworthiness, were
quite abashed by this sublime declamation, poured forth with hands
crossed on the bosom, and eyes turned up to the ceiling, like some
images one has seen of St. Ignatius or St. Francis Xavier.

It was a minute at least before his reverence relaxed from this
attitude, and, drawing a curtain, condescended to admit us into a
spacious parlour, delightfully cool, perfumed with jasmine, and filled
with little Brazilian doves, parroquets, and canary birds. Such a cooing
and chirping was never heard in greater perfection, except in Mahomet’s
Paradise; nor were the houries wanting, for in a deep recess, behind a
tolerably wide lattice, sat a row of the loveliest young creatures I
ever beheld. A daughter of my friend Don Josè de Brito was amongst the
number, and her eyes, of the most bewitching softness, seemed to acquire
new fascination in this mysterious sort of twilight, beaming from behind
a double grating of iron.

Every now and then the birds, not in the least intimidated by the
predatory glances of Father Theodore, violated the sanctuary, and
pitched upon ivory necks, and were received with ten thousand
endearments by the angels of this little sequestered heaven, which
looked so refreshing, and formed by its sacred calm so inviting a
contrast to the turbulent world without, and its glaring atmosphere,
that I could not resist exclaiming, “O that I had wings like a dove,
that I might fly through those bars and be at rest!”

I need not tell you we passed half-an-hour most delightfully in talking
of music, gardens, roses, and devotion, with the meninas, and had almost
forgotten we were engaged to hear the Scarlati sing. Her father, an old
captain of horse, of Italian extraction, lives not far from the Convent
of the Visitation, so we had not much time during our transit to
experience the woful difference between the cool parlour of the nuns and
the suffocating exterior air.

A numerous group of the young ladies’ kindred stood ready at the
street-door, with all that hospitable courtesy for which the Portuguese
are so remarkably distinguished, to usher the strangers up-stairs into a
gallery hung with arras and sconces, not unlike the great room of an
Italian inn, once the palace of a nobleman. To keep up these post-house
ideas, we scented a strong effluvia of the stable, and heard certain
stampings and neighings, as if a party of hounnyms had arrived to
partake of the concert.

Many strange, aboriginal figures of both sexes were assembled, an
uncouth collection enough, I am apt to conjecture; however, I soon
ceased giving them any notice. The young lady of the house charmed me at
first sight by her graceful, modest manner; but when she sang some airs,
composed by the famous Perez, I was not less delighted than surprised.
Her voice modulates with unaffected carelessness into the most pathetic
tones.[15] Though she has adopted the masterly and scientific style of
Ferracuti, one of the first singers in the Queen’s service, she gives a
simplicity of expression to the most difficult passages, that makes them
appear the effusions of a young romantic girl warbling to herself in the
secret recesses of a forest.

I sat in a dark corner, unconscious of every thing that passed in the
apartment, of the singular figures that entered, or those that went
away; the starings, whisperings, and fan-flirtings of the assembly were
lost upon me: I could not utter a syllable, and was vexed when an
arbitrary old aunt insisted upon no more singing, and proposed a
faro-table and a dance.

Most eagerly did I wish all the kindred and their friends petrified for
the time being by some obliging necromancer, and would have done any
thing, short of engaging my own dear self to the devil, to have obtained
an uninterrupted audience of the syren till morning.



LETTER XVI.

     Ups-and-downs of Lisbon.--Negro Beldames.--Quinta of
     Marvilla.--Moonlight view of Lisbon.--Illuminated windows of the
     Palace.--The old Marquis of Penalva.--Padre Duarte, a famous
     Jesuit.--Conversation between him and a conceited Physician.--Their
     ludicrous blunders.--Toad-eaters.--Sonatas.--Portuguese minuets.


30th June, 1787.

...We sallied out after dinner to pay visits. Never did I behold such
cursed ups-and-downs, such shelving descents and sudden rises, as occur
at every step one takes in going about Lisbon. I thought myself fifty
times on the point of being overturned into the Tagus, or tumbled into
sandy ditches, among rotten shoes, dead cats, and negro beldames, who
retire into such dens and burrows for the purpose of telling fortunes
and selling charms for the ague.

The Inquisition too often lays hold of these wretched sibyls, and works
them confoundedly. I saw one dragging into light as I passed by the
ruins of a palace thrown down by the earthquake. Whether a familiar of
the Inquisition was griping her in his clutches, or whether she was
being taken to account by some disappointed votary, I will not pretend
to answer. Be that as it may, I was happy to be driven out of sight of
this hideous object, whose contortions and howlings were truly horrible.

The more one is acquainted with Lisbon, the less it answers the
expectations raised by its magnificent appearance from the river. Could
a traveller be suddenly transported without preparation or prejudice to
many parts of this city, he would reasonably conclude himself traversing
a succession of villages awkwardly tacked together, and overpowered by
massive convents. The churches in general are in a woful taste of
architecture, the taste of Borromini, with crinkled pediments,
furbelowed cornices and turrets, somewhat in the style of old-fashioned
French clock-cases, such as Boucher designed with many a scrawl and
flourish to adorn the apartments of Madame de Pompadour.

We traversed the city this evening in all its extent in our way to the
Duke d’Alafoens’s villa, and gave vast numbers of her most faithful
Majesty’s subjects an opportunity of staring at the height of the
coach-box, the short jacket of the postilion, and other Anglicisms of
the equipage. The Duke had been summoned to a council of state; but we
found the Marquis of Marialva, who went with us round the apartments of
the villa, which have nothing remarkable except one or two large saloons
of excellent and striking proportions.

He afterwards proposed accompanying us about half-a-mile farther to the
quinta of Marvilla, which belongs to his father. This spot has great
picturesque beauties. The trees are old and fantastic, bending over
ruined fountains and mutilated statues of heroes in armour, variegated
by the lapse of years with innumerable tints of purple, green, and
yellow. In the centre of almost impenetrable thickets of bay and myrtle,
rise strange pyramids of rock-work surrounded by marble lions, that have
a magic, symbolical appearance. M---- has feeling enough to respect
these uncouth monuments of an age when his ancestors performed so many
heroic achievements, and readily promised me never to sacrifice them and
the venerable shades in which they are embowered, to the pert, gaudy
taste of modern Portuguese gardening.

We walked part of the way home by the serene light of the full moon
rising from behind the mountains on the opposite shore of the Tagus, at
this extremity of the metropolis above nine miles broad. Lisbon, which
appeared to me so uninteresting a few hours ago, assumed a very
different aspect by these soft gleams. The flights of steps, terraces,
chapels, and porticos of several convents and palaces on the brink of
the river, shone forth like edifices of white marble, whilst the rough
cliffs and miserable sheds rising above them were lost in dark shadows.
The great square through which we passed was filled with idlers of all
sorts and sexes, staring up at the illuminated windows of the palace in
hopes of catching a glimpse of her Majesty, the Prince, the Infantas,
the Confessor, or Maids of Honour, whisking about from one apartment to
the other, and giving ample scope to amusing conjectures. I am told the
Confessor, though somewhat advanced in his career, is far from being
insensible to the allurements of beauty, and pursues the young nymphs of
the palace from window to window with juvenile alacrity.

It was nine before we got home, and I had not been long reposing myself
after my walk, and arranging some plants I had gathered in the thickets
of Marvilla, before three distinct ringings of the bell at my door
announced the arrival of some distinguished personage; nor was I
disappointed, for in came the old Marquis of Penalva and his son, who
till a year ago, when the Queen granted him the same title as his
father, was called Conde de Tarouca.

You must have heard frequently of that name. A grandfather of the old
Marquis rendered it very illustrious by several important and successful
embassies: the splendid entertainments he gave at the Congress of
Utrecht, are amply described in Madame du Noyers and several other books
of memoirs.

The Penalvas brought this evening in their suite a famous Jesuit, Padre
Duarte, whom Pombal thought of sufficient consequence to be imprisoned
for eighteen years, and a tall, knock-kneed, rhubarb-faced physician,
in a gorgeous suit of glistening satin, one of the most ungain,
conceited professors of the art of murdering I ever met with. Between
the Jesuit and the doctor I had enough to do to keep my temper or
countenance. They prated incessantly, pretended to have the most
implicit admiration for everything that came from England, either in the
way of furniture or poetry, and confounding dates, names, and subjects
in one strange jumble, asked whether Sir Peter Lely was not the actual
President of our Royal Academy, and launched forth into a warm encomium
of my countryman Hans Holbein. I begged leave to assure these
complaisant sages, that the last-mentioned artist was born at Basle, and
that Sir Peter Lely had been dead a century. They stared a little at
this information, but continued, nevertheless, in full song, playing off
a sounding peal of compliments upon our national proficiency in
painting, watch-making, the stocking-manufactory, &c. when General
Forbes came in and made a diversion in my favour. We had some
conversation upon the present state of Portugal, and the risks it runs
of being swallowed up by the negotiations, not by the arms of Spain,
ere many years are elapsed....

Our discourse was interrupted by the arrival of a fiddler, a priest, and
an Italian musician, humble servants and toad-eaters to my illustrious
guests. They fell a thumping my poor piano-forte, and playing sonatas
whether I would or not. You are aware I am no great friend to sonatas,
and that certain chromatic, squeaking tones of a fiddle, when the
performer turns up the whites of his eyes, waggles a greasy chin, and
affects ecstasies, set my teeth on edge. The griping countenance of the
doctor was enough to produce that effect already, without the assistance
of his fellow parasites, the priest and musician. Padre Duarte seemed to
like them no better than myself; General Forbes had wisely withdrawn;
and the old Marquis, inspired by a pathetic adagio, glided suddenly
across the room in a step which I took for the beginning of a ballet
heroique, but which turned out a minuet in the Portuguese style, with
all its kicks and flourishes, in which Miss S----, who had come in to
tea, was persuaded to join much against her inclination. It was no
sooner ended, than the doctor displayed his rueful length of person in
such a twitching angular minuet, as I want words to describe; so,
between the sister-arts of music and dancing, I passed a delectable
evening. This set shan’t catch me at home again in a hurry.



LETTER XVII.

     Dog-howlings.--Visit to the Convent of San Josè di
     Ribamar.--Breakfast at the Marquis of Penalvas.--Magnificent and
     hospitable reception.--Whispering in the shade of mysterious
     chambers.--The Bishop of Algarve.--Evening scene in the garden of
     Marvilla.


July 2nd, 1787.

I was awakened in the night by a horrid cry of dogs; not that infernal
pack which Dryden tells us in his divine tale of Theodore and Honoria
went regularly a ghost-hunting every Friday, howled half so dreadfully:
Lisbon is more infested than any other capital I ever inhabited by herds
of these half-famished animals, making themselves of use and importance
by ridding the streets of some part, at least, of their unsavoury
incumbrances.

Verdeil, who could not sleep any more than myself, on account of a
furious and long protracted battle between two parties of these
hell-hounds, persuaded me to rise with the sun, and proceed on
horseback along the shore of Belem, which appeared in all its morning
glory; the sky diversified by streaming clouds of purple edged with
gold, and the sea by innumerable vessels of different sizes shooting
along in various directions, whilst the waves at the entrance of the
harbour were in violent agitation, all froth and foam.

To vary our excursion a little, we struck out of the common track, and
visited the convent of San Josè di Ribamar. The building is irregular
and picturesque, rising from a craggy eminence, and backed by a thicket
of elm, bay, and arbor judæ. We were shown by simple, smiling friars,
into a small court with cloisters, supported by low Tuscan columns. A
fountain playing in the middle and sprinkling a profusion of flowers,
gave an oriental air to this little court that pleased me exceedingly.
The monks seem sensible of its merits, for they keep it tolerably clean,
which is more than I will say for their garden. Bindweed and dwarf-aloes
almost prevented our crossing it in our way to the thicket; a delicious
retreat, the refuge and comfort of half the birds in the country. Thanks
to monkish laziness, the underwood remains unclipped, and intrudes
wherever it pleases upon the alleys, which hang over the sea, in a bold
romantic manner.

The fathers would show me their flower-garden, and a very pleasant
terrace it is; neatly paved with chequered tiles, and interspersed with
knots of carnations, in a style as ancient, I should conjecture, as the
dominion of the Moors in Portugal. Espaliers of citron and orange cover
the walls, and have almost gotten the better of some glaring shell-work,
with which a reverend father encrusted them ten or twelve years ago.
Shining beads, china plates and saucers turned inside out, compose the
chief ornaments of this decoration; I observed the same propensity to
shell-work and broken china in a Mr. de Visme, whose quinta at Bemfica
eclipses our Clapham and Islington villas in all the attractions of
leaden statues, Chinese temples, serpentine rivers, and dusty
hermitages.

We returned home before the heat grew quite intolerable, and just in
time to go to a breakfast at the Marquis of Penalva’s, to which we had
been invited the day before yesterday. When once a Portuguese of the
first class determines to admit a stranger into the penetralia of his
family, he spares no pains to set off all he possesses to the most
striking advantage, and offer it to his guest with the most liberal
hospitality; you appear to command him, and he everything. Our
reception, therefore, was most sumptuous and most cordial.

If we had wished for a concert, the best musicians of the royal chapel
were in waiting to perform it; if to examine early editions of the
classics or scarce Portuguese authors, the library was open, and the
librarian ready to hand and explain to us any article that happened to
attract our attention; if to see pictures, the walls of several
apartments displayed an interesting collection, both of the Italian and
Flemish schools; if conversation, almost every person of literary note
in this capital, academicians and artists, were assembled. Supposing the
rarest botanical specimens and flowers had been our peculiar taste, some
of the most perfect I ever beheld were presented to us; and that nothing
in any line might be wanting, the rich grated folding-doors of a chapel
were expanded, and an altar splendidly lighted up, seemed to invite
those who felt spiritual calls, to indulge themselves.

For my part, the sea breezes having sharpened my temporal appetite, I
sat down with great alacrity to breakfast. It was magnificent and well
served. I could not help noticing the extreme fineness of the linen,
curiously embroidered with arms and flowers, red on a white ground.
Superb embossed gilt salvers supported plates of iced fruit,
particularly scarlet strawberries, which are uncommon in Portugal, and
filled the apartment with fragrance; the more grateful, as it excited,
by the strong power of associated ideas, recollections of home and of
England.

Much whispering and giggling was going forward in the cool shade of
several mysterious chambers, which opened into the saloon where we were
at table. These sounds proceeded from the ladies of the family, who, had
they been natives of Bagdad or Constantinople, could hardly have
remained in a more Asiatic state of seclusion. I was allowed, however,
to make my bow to them in their harem itself, which, I was given to
understand, I ought to look upon as a most flattering mark of
distinction. Who should I find in the midst of the group of senhoras,
and seated like them upon the ground _à la façon de Barbarie_, but the
newly-consecrated, and very young-looking Bishop of Algarve, whose
small, black, sleek, schoolboyish head and sallow countenance, was
overshadowed by an enormous pair of green spectacles. Truth obliges me
to confess that the expression which beamed from the eyes under these
formidable glasses, did not absolutely partake of the most decent, mild,
or apostolic character. In process of time, perhaps, he may acquire that
varnish, without which the least holy intentions often miss their aim,
the varnish of hypocrisy. I wonder he has not already attained a more
conspicuous degree of perfection in this style, having studied under a
complete _tartuffe_ and Jansenistical bigot as ever existed, one of the
cock-birds of a nest of imaginary philosophers, who are working hard to
undo what little good has been done in this country, and laying a mine
of ten thousand intrigues to blow up, if they can but contrive it, all
genuine sentiments of religion and morality.

The old Marquis of Penalva pressed us to stay dinner, which was set out
in high order, in a pleasant, shady apartment. Verdeil could not resist
the temptation; but I was fatigued with the howlings of the night, and
the sultriness and bustle of the day, and went home to a quieter party
with the Grand Prior and Don Pedro.

In the evening we drove to Marvilla, the neglected garden I have before
mentioned, and which commands the broadest expanse of the Tagus, a
prospect which recalled to my mind the lake of Geneva, and all that
befel me on its banks. You may imagine, then, it tended much more to
depress than exhilarate my spirits. I consented, however, to accompany
the Grand Prior about the alleys and terraces of this romantic
enclosure, the scene of his childhood, and of which he is peculiarly
fond. The palace, courts, and fountains are almost in ruins, the
parterres of myrtle have shot up into wild bushes covered with blossoms,
and the statues are half concealed by jasmine.

Here is a small theatre for operas, and a chapel, not unlike a mosque in
shape, and arabesque ornaments, darkly shadowed by Spanish banners, the
trophies of the battle of Elvas, gained by an ancestor of the Marialvas.

A long bower of vines, supported by marble pillars, leads from the
palace to the chapel. There is something majestic in this verdant
gallery, and the glow of sun-set piercing its foliage, lighted up the
wan features of several superannuated servants of the family, who
crawled out of their decayed chambers and threw themselves on their
knees before the Grand Prior and Don Pedro.

We wandered about this forlorn, abandoned garden, whose stillness
equalled that of a Carthusian convent, till dusk, when a refreshing wind
having risen, waved the cypresses and scattered the white jasmine
flowers over the parterres of myrtle in clouds like snow. Don Pedro
filled the carriage with flowery sprays pulled from mutilated statues,
and we were all half intoxicated before we reached my habitation with
the delicious but overcoming perfume.



LETTER XVIII.

     Excursion to Cintra.--Villa of Ramalhaô.--The
     Garden.--Collares.--Pavilion designed by Pillement.--A convulsive
     gallop.--Cold weather in July.


July 9th, 1787.

I was at the Marialva Palace by nine, and set off from thence with the
Marquis for Cintra. Having the command of the Queen’s stables, in which
are four thousand mules and two thousand horses, he orders as many
relays as he pleases, and we changed mules four times in the space of an
hour.

A few minutes after ten we were landed at Ramalhaô, a villa, under the
pyramidical rocks of Cintra, Signor S. Arriaga was so kind as to lend me
a month or two ago, and which I have not had time to visit till to-day.
The suite of apartments are spacious and airy, and the views they
command of sea and arid country boundless; but unless the heat becomes
more violent, I shall be cooler than I wish in them, as they contain
not a chimney except in the kitchen.

I found the garden in excellent order, and flourishing crops of
vegetables springing up between rows of orange and citron. Such is the
power of the climate, that the gardenias and Cape plants I brought with
me from England, mere stumps, are covered with beautiful blossoms. The
curled mallows, and some varieties of Indian-corn, sown by my English
gardener, have shot up to a strange elevation, and begin already to form
shady avenues and fairy forests, where children might play in perfection
at landscape-gardening.

After I had passed half-an-hour in looking about me, the Marquis and I
got into our chair and drove to his own villa; a new creation, which has
cost him a great many thousand pounds sterling. Five years ago it was a
wild hill bestrewn with flints and rocky fragments. At present you find
a gay pavilion designed by Pillement, and elegantly decorated; a
parterre with statues and fountains, thick alleys of laurel, bay, and
laurustine, cascades, arbours, clipped box-trees, and every ornament the
Portuguese taste in gardening renders desirable.

We dined at a clean snug inn, situated towards the middle of the village
of Cintra. The Queen has lately bestowed this house and a large tract of
ground adjoining it, upon the Marquis. From its windows and loggias you
look down deep ravines and bold slopes of woods and copses, variegated
with mossy stones and ancient decayed chesnuts.

As soon as the sun grew low we went to Collares, and walked on a terrace
belonging to M. la Roche, a French merchant, who has shown some
glimmering of taste in the laying out of his villa. The groves of pine
and chesnut starting from the crevices of rock, and rising one above
another to a considerable elevation, give Collares the air of an Alpine
village. Innumerable rills, overhung by cork-trees and branching lemons,
burst out of ruined walls by the wayside, and dash into marble basins. A
favourite attendant of the late king’s, who has a very large property in
these environs, invited us with much civility and obsequiousness into
his garden. I thought myself entering the orchards of Alcinous. The
boughs literally bent under loads of fruit; the slightest shake strewed
the ground with plums, oranges, and apricots.

This villa boasts a grand artificial cascade, with tritons and dolphins
vomiting torrents of water; but I paid it not half the attention its
proprietor expected, and retiring under the shade of the fruit-trees,
feasted on the golden apples and purple plums that were rolling about me
in such profusion. The Marquis, who shares with most of the Portuguese a
remarkable predilection for flowers, filled his carriage with carnations
and jasmine. I never saw plants more conspicuous for size and vigour
than those which have the luck of being sown in this fortunate soil. The
exposition likewise is singularly happy; skreened by sloping hills, and
defended from the sea-airs by several miles of thickets and orchards. I
felt unwilling to quit a spot so favoured by nature, and M---- flatters
himself I shall be tempted to purchase it.

The wind became troublesome as we ascended the hill, crowned by the
Marialva villa. The sky was clear and the sun set fiery. The distant
convent of Mafra, glowing with ruddy light, looked like the enchanted
palace of a giant, and the surrounding country bleak and barren as if
the monster had eaten it desolate. To repose ourselves a little after
our rapid excursion we entered the pavilion I told you just now
Pillement had designed. It represents a bower of fantastic Indian trees
mingling their branches, and discovering between them peeps of a summer
sky. From the mouth of a flying dragon depends a magnificent lustre for
fifty lights, hung with festoons of brilliant glass, that twinkle like
strings of diamonds.

We loitered in this saloon till it was pitch-dark. The pages riding full
speed before us with flaming torches, and the wind driving back sparks
and smoke full in our faces, I was stunned and bewildered, and
experienced, perhaps, the sensations of a novice in sorcery, mounted for
the first time behind a witch on a broomstick. In less than an hour we
had rattled over twelve miles of rough, disjoined pavement, going up and
down the steepest hills in a convulsive gallop, so that I expected every
instant to be thrown flat on my nose; but, happily, the mules were
picked from perhaps a hundred, and never stumbled. I found the air on
the heights above the Ajueda very keen and piercing.

It sounds strange to be complaining of cold at Lisbon on the ninth of
July.



LETTER XIX.

     Sympathy between Toads and Old Women.--Palace of Cintra.--Reservoir
     of Gold and Silver Fish.--Parterre on the summit of a lofty
     terrace.--Place of confinement of Alphonso the Sixth.--The
     Chapel.--Barbaric profusion of Gold.--Altar at which Don Sebastian
     knelt when he received a supernatural warning.--Rooms in
     preparation for the Queen and the Infantas.--Return to Ramalhaô.


July 24th, 1787.

There exists, I am convinced, a decided sympathy between toads and
witch-like old women. Mother Morgan[16] descended this morning, not into
the infernal regions, but into the cellar, and immediately five or six
spanking reptiles of this mysterious species waddled around her. She
rewarded the confidence the poor things placed in her rather scurvily,
and laid three of the fattest sprawling. I saw them lying breathless in
the court as I got on horseback; the largest measured seven inches in
diameter. Portuguese toads may be more distinguished for size, but are
not half so amiably speckled as those we have the happiness to harbour
in England.

I was some time hesitating which way I should turn my horse’s steps,
whether to the Pedra d’os Ovos, or on the other side of the rock to the
Peninha, a cell belonging to the Hieronimites, and dependent upon their
principal eyry, Nossa Senhora da Penha. Marialva, whom I met with all
his train of equerries and picadors coming forth from his villa, decided
me not to take a clambering ride, but to accompany him to the palace,
the interior of which I had not yet visited.

The Alhambra itself is scarcely more morisco in point of architecture
than this confused pile, which seems to grow out of the summit of a
rocky eminence, and is broken into a variety of picturesque recesses and
projections. It is a thousand pities that they have whitened its
venerable walls, stopped up a range of bold arcades, and sliced out one
end of the great hall into two or three mean apartments like the
dressing-rooms of a theatre. From the windows, which are all in a
fantastic oriental style, crinkled and crankled, and supported by
twisted pillars of smooth marble, striking, romantic views of the cliffs
and village of Cintra are commanded. Several irregular courts and
loggias, formed by the angles of square towers, are enlivened by
fountains of marble and gilt bronze, continually pouring forth abundant
streams of the purest water.

A sort of reservoir, almost long enough to be styled a canal, is
continued the whole length of the great hall, and serves as a paradise
for shoals of the largest and most brilliant gold and silver fish I ever
set eyes upon. The murmur of the jets-d’eau which rise from this canal,
the ripple of the water undulating against steps and slabs of polished
marble, the glancing and gleaming of the fish, and the striking contrast
of light and shade produced by the intricate labyrinth of arches and
columns, combine altogether to form a scene of enchantment such as we
sometimes dream of, but hardly suppose is ever realized. There is a
sobriety in the hues of the marble, a mysteriousness in the dark
recesses seen in perspective, and a solemnity in the deep colour,
approaching to blackness, of the water in that part of the reservoir
which is overshadowed by lofty buildings, I cannot help thinking
superior to all the flutter and glitter of the most famous Moorish
edifices at Granada or Seville.

The flat summit of one of the loftiest terraces, not less than one
hundred and fifty feet from the ground, is laid out as a neat parterre,
which is spread like an embroidered carpet before the entrance of a huge
square tower, almost entirely occupied by a hall encrusted with
glistening tiles, and crowned by a most singularly-shaped dome. Amidst
the scrolls of arabesque foliage which adorn it, appear the arms of the
principal Portuguese nobility. The achievement of the unfortunate house
of Tavora is blotted out, and the panel it occupied left bare.

We had climbed up to this terrace and tower by one of those steep,
cork-screw staircases, of which there are numbers in the palace, and
which connect with vaulted passages in a secret and suspicious manner.
The Marquis pointed out to me the mosaic pavement of a small chamber,
fretted and worn away in several places by the steps of Alphonso the
Sixth, who was confined to this narrow space a long series of years.

Descending from it, we looked into the chapel, not less singular in form
and construction than the rest of the edifice. The low flat cupola, as
well as the intersections of the arches, are much in the style of a
mosque; but the barbaric profusion of gold, and still more barbaric
paintings with which every soffite and panel are covered, might almost
be supposed the work of Cingalese or Hindostanee artists, and reminded
me of those subterraneous pagodas where his Satanic Majesty receives
homage under the form of Gumputy or of Boodh.

The original glare of all this strange scenery is greatly subdued by the
smoke of lamps, which have been burning for ages before the altar: a
mysterious pile of carved work and imagery, in perfect consonance, as to
gloom and uncouthness, with every other object in the place. It was
whilst kneeling before this very altar that the young, the ardent, the
chivalrous Don Sebastian is said to have received a supernatural warning
to renounce that fatal African expedition which cost him his crown and
his life, and what an heroic mind holds in far higher estimation, that
immortal fame which follows successful achievements.

A something I can hardly describe, an oppressive gloom, seemed to hang
over this chapel, which remains very nearly, I should imagine, in the
same style it was left by the ill-fated Sebastian. The want of a free
circulation of air, and a heavy cloud of incense, affected the nerves of
my head so disagreeably that I was glad to move on, and follow the
Marquis into the rooms preparing for the Queen and the Infantas. These
are airy and well ventilated; but instead of hanging them with rich
arras, representing the adventures of knights and worthies, her
Majesty’s upholsterers are hard at work covering the stout walls with
bright silks and satins of the palest and most delicate colours. I saw
no furniture worth notice, not a picture or a cabinet: our stay,
therefore, as we had nothing to see, was not protracted.

As soon as the Marquis had given some orders, with which his royal
mistress had charged him, we returned to Ramalhaô, where Horne and
Guildermeester, the Dutch Consul, were waiting our arrival, and
squabbling about insurances, percentages, commissions, and other
commercial speculations.

I have been persuading the Marquis to accompany me to-morrow to
Guildermeester’s: it is the old man’s birthday, and he opens his new
house with dancing and suppering. We shall have a pretty sample of the
factory misses, clerks, and apprentices, some underlings of the _corps
diplomatique_, and God knows how many thousand pound weight of Dutch and
Hambro merchants.



LETTER XX.

     Grand gala at Court.--Festival in honour of the birthday of
     Guildermeester.--Mad freaks of a Frenchman.--Unwelcome lights of
     Truth.--Invective against the English.


July 25th, 1787.

Grand gala at Court, and the Marquis gone to attend it; for this blessed
day not only gave birth to Guildermeester, but to the Princess of
Brazil. We went to dine with the Marchioness. A band of regimental
music, on their march to Guildermeester, began playing in the court, and
drew forth one of those curious swarms of all sexes, ages, and colours,
which this beneficent family are so fond of harbouring. Donna
Henriquetta was seated on the steps, which lead up to the great
pavilion, whispering to some of her favourite attendants, who, like the
chorus in an ancient Greek tragedy, were continually giving their
opinion of whatever was going forward.

Just as Don Pedro and I were preparing to set off together for the ball
at the old consul’s, we were agreeably surprised by the arrival of the
Marquis, who had escaped from the palace much earlier than he expected.
I carried him in my chaise to Horne’s, where we drank tea on his
terrace, which commands the most romantic view in Cintra; vast sweeps of
varied foliage, banks with twisted roots, and trunks of enormous
chesnuts, mingled with weeping-willows of the freshest verdure, and
citrons clustered with fruit. Above this sylvan scene tower three
shattered pinnacles of rock, the middle one diversified by the turrets
and walls of Nossa Senhora da Penha, a convent of Jeronimites,
frequently concealed in clouds. I leaned against a cork-tree, which
spreads its branches almost entirely over the veranda, enjoying the
view, and staring idly at the grotesque figures, Dutch, English, and
Portuguese, passing along to Guildermeester’s; a series sufficiently
diversified to have amused me for some time, had not M---- grown
impatient and uneasy. His brother-in-law, S---- V----, to whom he has a
mortal aversion, having made his appearance, the powers of light and
darkness, if personified, could not exhibit a stronger contrast than
these two personages; M---- looking all benignity, and S---- V---- all
malevolence. Indeed, if one half of the atrocities[17] public report
attributes to this notorious nobleman be true, I should not wonder at
the blackness of revenge and tyranny being so deeply marked in every
line of his countenance.

Moving off the first opportunity, we passed through dark and gloomy
lanes, admirably calculated for such exploits as I have just alluded to,
and were near being jerked into a ditch as we drove to the old consul’s
door. The space before this new building is in sad disorder. The house
has little more than bare walls, and was not very splendidly lighted up.

As for the company, they turned out just what I expected. Madame G----,
who is a woman of spirit and discernment, did the honours with the
greatest ease, and paid her principal guests the most marked attentions.
There is a something pointedly original in all her observations, which
pleased me very much. She is not, however, of the merciful tribe, and
joined forces with Verdeil (no foe to a little slashing conversation) in
cutting up the factory. M---- handed her in to supper. This part of the
entertainment was magnificent. There was a bright illumination, an
immense profusion of plate, a striking breadth of table, every delicacy
that could be procured, and a dessert-frame, fifty or sixty feet in
length, gleaming with burnished figures and vases of silver flowers. I
felt no inclination to dance after supper; the music was not inspiring,
and the company thrown into the utmost confusion by the mad freaks of a
Frenchman, upon whom one of the principal ladies present is supposed for
two or three years past to have placed her affections. A _coup de
soleil_ and a quarrel with his ambassador, Monsieur de Bombelles, it
seems had turned the poor fellow’s brain: there was no preventing his
rushing from room to room with the sputter and eccentricity of a
fire-work, now abusing one person, now another, confessing publicly the
universal kindness he had received from the lady above hinted at, and
the many marks of tender affection a certain Miss W---- had bestowed on
him. “Why,” said he to the two heroines, who I am told are not upon the
best terms imaginable, “should you squabble and scratch? You are both
equally indulgent, and have both rendered me in your turns the happiest
mortal in the universe.”

Whilst the light of truth was shining upon the bystanders in this very
singular manner, I leave you to imagine the awkward surprise of the
worthy old husband, and the angry blushes of his spouse and her fair
associate. I never beheld a more capital scene. In some of our
pantomimes, if I recollect rightly, harlequin applies a touchstone to
his adversaries, and by its magic influence draws truth from their
mouths in spite of propriety or interest. The lawyer confesses having
fingered a bribe, the soldier his flight in the day of battle, and the
whining methodistical dowager her frequent recourse to the bottle of
inspiration. This wondrous effect seems to have been here realized, and
some malicious demon to have possessed the talkative Frenchman, and to
have compelled him to disclose the mysteries to which he owes his
subsistence. Amongst the harsh truths poured out by this flow of
sincerity was a vehement apostrophe to the English canaille, as he
styled them, upon their rank intolerance of all customs except their
own, and their ten thousand starch uncharitable prejudices. Mrs.----,
become dauntless through despair, took up the cudgels in this cause most
vigorously, compared the chief part of the company to a swarm of
venomous insects, unworthy to crawl upon the hem of her really pure,
though calumniated garments, and fit to be shaken off with a vengeance
the first opportunity.

The Marquis, Don Pedro, and I enjoyed the scene so much, that we stayed
later than we intended.



LETTER XXI.

     The Queen of Portugal’s Chapel.--The Orchestra.--Rehearsal of a
     Council.--Proposal to visit Mafra.


Ramalhaô, near Cintra, 26th August, 1787.

The Queen of Portugal’s chapel is still the first in Europe; in point of
vocal and instrumental excellence, no other establishment of the kind,
the papal not excepted, can boast such an assemblage of admirable
musicians. Wherever her Majesty moves they follow; when she goes a
hawking to Salvaterra, or a health-hunting to the baths of the Caldas.
Even in the midst of these wild rocks and mountains, she is surrounded
by a bevy of delicate warblers, as plump as quails, and as gurgling and
melodious as nightingales. The violins and violoncellos at her Majesty’s
beck are all of the first order, and in oboe and flute-players her
musical menagerie is unrivalled.

The Marquis of M----, as first Lord of the Bedchamber, Master of the
Horse, and, as it were, hereditary prime favourite, enjoys a decided
influence over this empire of sweet sounds; and having been so friendly
as to impart a share of these musical blessings to me, I have been
permitted to avail myself, whenever I please, of a selection from this
wonderful band of performers. This very morning, to my shame be it
recorded, I remained hour after hour in my newly-arranged pavilion,
without reading a word, writing a line, or entering into any
conversation. All my faculties were absorbed by the harmony of the wind
instruments, stationed at a distance in a thicket of orange and bay
trees. It was to no purpose that I tried several times to retire out of
the sound--I was as often drawn back as I attempted to snatch myself
away. Did I consult the health of my mind, I should dismiss these
musicians; their plaintive affecting tones are sure to awaken in my
bosom a long train of mournful recollections, and by the force of
associated ideas to plunge me into a state of languor and gloom.

       *       *       *       *       *

My excellent friend, the Prior of Aviz, performed a real act of
friendship, by breaking in almost by force upon my seclusion, and
rousing me from my reveries. He insisted upon my accompanying him to the
Archbishop’s, where the rehearsal of a council to be held in the Queen’s
presence was going forward, and all the ministers with their assistant
under-secretaries assembled. Such congregations are new to the good old
Confessor, who has been just pressed into the supreme direction, I might
say control, of the Cabinet, much against his will. He knows too well
the value of ease and tranquillity not to regret so violent an inroad
upon his usual habits of life. We found him, therefore, as might be
expected, in a state of turmoil and irritation, flushed up to the very
forehead with a ruddy tint, which was highly contrasted by his flowing
white flannel garments. These garments he frequently shook and crumpled,
and more than once did he strike with vehemence against his portly
paunch, which, though he declared it had waited an hour longer than
customary for its wonted replenishment, sounded by no means so hollow as
an empty tub. The old saying, that “_fat paunches make lean pates_,”
could not, however, be applied to him; he was so gracious and
confidential as to give me a summary of what had been represented to him
from the different departments of state, with great perspicuity and
acuteness.

Notwithstanding the interest this singular communication ought to have
excited, I paid it not half the attention it deserved. The impression I
had received in the morning, from the music of Haydn and Jomelli, still
lingered about me. The Grand Prior, finding politics could not shake
them off, consulted with his nephew, who happened to be just by in the
Queen’s apartment, and returned with a proposal, that as I had long
expressed a wish to see Mafra, we should put this scheme in execution
to-morrow. It was settled, therefore, that to-morrow we should set off.



LETTER XXII.

     Road to Mafra.--Distant view of the Convent.--Its vast
     fronts.--General magnificence of the Edifice.--The Church.--The
     High Altar.--Eve of the Festival of St. Augustine.--The collateral
     Chapels.--The Sacristy.--The Abbot of the Convent.--The
     Library.--View from the Convent-roof.--Chime of Bells.--House of
     the Capitan Mor.--Dinner.--Vespers.--Awful sound of the
     Organs.--The Palace.--Return to the Convent.--Inquisitive
     crowd.--The Garden.--Matins.--A Procession.--The Hall de
     Profundis.--Solemn Repast.--Supper at the Capitan Mor’s.


August 27th, 1787.

We got into the carriage at nine, in spite of the wind, which blew full
in our faces. The distance from the villa I inhabit to this stupendous
convent is about fourteen English miles, and the road, which by
good-luck has been lately mended, conducted across a parched, open
country, thinly scattered with windmills and villages. The retrospect on
the woody slopes and pointed rocks of Cintra is pleasant enough; but
when you look forward, nothing can be more bleak or barren than the
prospect. Thanks to relays of mules, we advanced, full speed, and in
less than an hour and a quarter found ourselves under a strong wall
which winds boldly across the hills, and incloses the park of Mafra.

We now caught a glimpse of the marble towers and dome of the convent,
relieved by an azure expanse of ocean, rising above the brow of heathy
eminences, diversified here and there by the bushy heads of Italian
pines and the tall spires of cypress. The roofs of the edifice were not
yet visible, and we continued some time winding about the undulating
acclivities in the park before they were discovered. A detachment of
lay-brothers were waiting to open the gates of the royal inclosure,
sadly blackened by a fire, which about a month ago consumed a great part
of its wood and verdure. Our approach spread a terrible alarm among the
herds of deer, which were peacefully browsing on a slope rather greener
than those in its neighbourhood. Off they scudded and took refuge in a
thicket of half-burnt pines.

After coasting the wall of the great garden, we turned suddenly the
corner, and discovered one of the vast fronts of the convent, appearing
like a street of palaces. I cannot pretend that the style of the
building is such as a lover of pure Grecian architecture would approve;
the windows and doors are many of them fantastically shaped, but at
least well proportioned.

I was admiring their ample range as we drove rapidly along, when, upon
wheeling round the lofty square pavilion which flanks the edifice, the
grand façade, extending above eight hundred feet, opened to my view. The
centre is formed by the porticos of the church richly adorned with
columns, niches, and bass-reliefs of marble. On each side two towers,
somewhat resembling those of St. Paul’s in London, rise to the height of
near two hundred feet, and, joining on to the enormous _corps de logis_,
the palace terminates to the right and left by its stately pavilions.
These towers are light, airy, and clustered with pillars, remarkably
beautiful; but their form in general borders too much on a sort of
pagoda-ish style, and wants solemnity. They contain many bells of the
largest dimensions, and a famous chime which cost several hundred
thousand crusadoes, and which was set playing the moment our arrival was
notified. The platform and flight of steps before the columned entrance
of the church is strikingly grand; and the dome, which lifts itself up
so proudly above the pediment of the portico, merits praise for its
lightness and elegance.

My eyes ranged along the vast extent of palace on each side till they
were tired, and I was glad to turn them from the glare of marble and
confusion of sculptured ornaments to the blue expanse of the distant
ocean. Before the front of this colossal structure a wide level of space
extends itself, at the extremity of which several white houses lie
dispersed. Though these buildings are by no means inconsiderable, they
appear, when contrasted with the immense pile in the neighbourhood, like
the booths of workmen, for such I took them upon my first survey, and
upon a nearer approach was quite surprised at their real dimensions.

Few objects render the prospect from the platform of Mafra, interesting.
You look over the roofs of an indifferent village and the summits of
sandy acclivities, backed by a boundless stretch of sea. On the left,
your view is terminated by the craggy mountains of Cintra; to the right,
a forest of pines in the Viscount of Ponte de Lima’s extensive garden,
affords the eye some small refreshment.

To skreen ourselves from the sun, which darted powerfully on our heads,
we entered the church, passing through its magnificent portico, which
reminded me not a little of the entrance of St. Peter’s; and is crowded
with the statues of saints and martyrs, carved with infinite delicacy.

The first _coup-d’œil_ of the church is very imposing. The high
altar, adorned with two majestic columns of reddish variegated marble,
each, a single block, above thirty feet in height, immediately fixes the
eye. Trevisani has painted the altar-piece in a masterly manner. It
represents St. Anthony in the ecstasy of beholding the infant Jesus
descending into his cell amidst an effulgence of glory.

To-morrow being the festival of St. Augustine, whose followers are the
actual possessors of this monastery, all the golden candelabra were
displayed, and tapers lighted. After pausing a few minutes in the midst
of this bright illumination, we visited the collateral chapels, each
enriched with highly finished bassi-relievi and stately portals of black
and yellow marble, richly veined, and so highly polished as to reflect
objects like a mirror. Never did I behold such an assemblage of
beautiful marble as gleamed above, below, and around us. The pavement,
the vaulted ceiling, the dome, and even the topmost lantern, is
encrusted with the same costly and durable materials. Roses of white
marble and wreaths of palm-branches, most exquisitely sculptured, enrich
every part of the edifice. I never saw Corinthian capitals better
modelled, or executed with more precision and sharpness, than those of
the columns which support the nave.

Having satisfied our curiosity by examining the various ornaments of the
altars, we followed our conductor through a long coved gallery into the
sacristy, a magnificent vaulted hall, panelled with some beautiful
varieties of alabaster and porphyry, and carpeted, as well as a chapel
adjoining it, in a style of the utmost magnificence. We traversed
several more halls and chapels, adorned with equal splendour, till we
were fatigued and bewildered like errant knights in the mazes of an
enchanted palace.

I began to think there was no end to these spacious apartments. The monk
who preceded us, a good-natured, slobbering greybeard, taking for
granted that I could not understand a syllable of his language,
attempted to explain the objects which presented themselves by signs,
and would hardly believe his ears, when I asked him in good Portuguese
when we should have done with chapels and sacristies. The old fellow
seemed vastly delighted with the Meninos, as he called Don Pedro and me;
and to give our young legs an opportunity of stretching themselves,
trotted along with such expedition that the Marquis and Verdeil wished
him in purgatory. To be sure, we advanced at a most rapid rate, striding
from one end to the other of a dormitory, six hundred feet in length, in
a minute or two. These vast corridors, and the cells with which they
communicate, three hundred in number, are all arched in the most
sumptuous and solid manner. Every cell, or rather chamber, for they are
sufficiently spacious, lofty, and well lighted, to merit that
appellation, is furnished with tables and cabinets of Brazil-wood.

Just as we entered the library, the Abbot of the convent, dressed in his
ceremonial habit, advanced to bid us welcome, and invite us to dine with
him to-morrow, St. Augustine’s day, in the refectory; which it seems is
a mighty compliment. We thought proper, however, to decline the honour,
being aware that, to enjoy it, we must sacrifice at least two hours of
our time, and be half parboiled by the steam of huge roasted calves,
turkeys, and gruntlings, which had long been fattening, no doubt, for
this solemn occasion.

The library is of a prodigious length, not less than three hundred feet;
the arched roof of a pleasing form, beautifully stuccoed, and the
pavement of red and white marble. Much cannot be said in praise of the
cases in which the books are to be arranged. They are clumsily designed,
coarsely executed, and darkened by a gallery which projects into the
room in a very awkward manner. The collection, which consists of above
sixty thousand volumes, is locked up at present in a suite of apartments
which opens into the library. Several well preserved and richly
illuminated first editions of the Greek and Roman classics were handed
to me by the father librarian; but my nimble conductor would not allow
me much time to examine them. He set off full speed, and, ascending a
winding staircase, led us out upon the roof of the convent and palace,
which form a broad, smooth terrace, bounded by a magnificent balustrade,
unincumbered by chimneys, and commanding a bird’s-eye view of the courts
and garden.

From this elevation the whole plan of the edifice may be comprehended at
a glance. In the centre rises the dome, like a beautiful temple from the
spacious walks of a royal garden. It is infinitely superior, in point of
design, to the rest of the edifice, and may certainly be reckoned among
the lightest and best proportioned in Europe. Don Pedro and Monsieur
Verdeil proposed scaling a ladder which leads up to the lantern, but I
begged to be excused accompanying them, and amused myself during their
absence with ranging about the extensive loggias, now and then venturing
a look down on the courts and parterres so far below; but oftener
enjoying the prospect of the towers shining bright in the sunbeams, and
the azure bloom of the distant sea. A fresh balsamic air wafted from the
orchards of citron and orange, fanned me as I rested on the steps of the
dome, and tempered the warmth of the glowing æther.

But I was soon driven from this cloudless, peaceful situation, by a
confounded jingle of all the bells; then followed a most complicated
sonata, banged off on the chimes by a great proficient. The Marquis, who
had climbed up on purpose to enjoy this cataract of what some persons
call melodious sounds at its fountainhead, would have me approach to
examine the mechanism, and I was half stunned. I know very little indeed
about chimes and clocks, and am quite at a loss for amusement in a
belfry. My friend, who inherits a mechanical turn from his father, the
renowned patron of clocks and time-pieces, investigated every wheel with
minute attention.

His survey finished, we descended innumerable stairs, and retired to the
Capitan Mor’s, whose jurisdiction extends over the park and district of
Mafra. He has seven or eight thousand crusadoes a year, and his
habitation wears every appearance of comfort and opulence. The floors
are covered with mats of the finest texture, the doors hung with red
damask curtains, and our beds, quite new for the occasion, spread with
satin coverlids richly embroidered and fringed. We had a most luxurious
repast, and a better dessert than even the monks could have given
us--the Capitan Mor taking the dishes from his long train of servants,
and placing them himself on the table, quite in the feudal style.

After coffee we hurried to vespers in the great church of the convent,
and advancing between the range of illuminated chapels, took our places
in the royal tribune. We were no sooner seated than the monks entered in
procession, preceding their abbot, who ascended his throne, having a row
of sacristans at his feet and canons on his right hand, in their cloth
of gold embroidered vestments. The service was chaunted with the most
imposing solemnity to the awful sound of organs, for there are no fewer
than six in the church, all of an enormous size.

When it was ended, being once more laid hold of by the nimble
lay-brother, we were conducted up a magnificent staircase into the
palace. The suite extends seven or eight hundred feet, and the almost
endless succession of lofty doors seen in perspective, strikes with
astonishment; but we were soon weary of being merely astonished, and
agreed to pronounce the apartments the dullest and most comfortless we
had ever beheld; there is no variety in their shape, and little in their
dimensions. The furniture being all locked up at Lisbon, a naked
sameness universally prevails; not a niche, not a cornice, not a curved
moulding breaks the tedious uniformity of dead white walls.

I was glad to return to the convent and refresh my eyes with the sight
of marble pillars, and my feet by treading on Persian carpets. We were
followed wherever we moved, into every cell, chapel, hall, passage, or
sacristy, by a strange medley of inquisitive monks, sacristans,
lay-brothers, corregidors, village-curates, and country beaux with long
rapiers and pigtails. If I happened to ask a question, half-a-dozen all
at once poked their necks out to answer it, like turkey-polts when
addressed in their native hobble-gobble dialect. The Marquis was quite
sick of being trotted after in this tumultuous manner, and tried several
times to leave the crowd behind him, by taking sudden turns; but
sticking close to our heels, it baffled all his endeavours, and
increased to such a degree, that we seemed to have swept the whole
convent and village of their inhabitants, and to draw them after us by
one of those supernatural attractions we read of in tales and romances.

At length, perceiving a large door open into the garden, we bolted out,
and striking into a labyrinth of myrtles and laurels, got rid of our
pursuers. The garden, which is about a mile and a half in circumference,
contains, besides wild thickets of pine and bay-trees, several orchards
of lemon and orange, and two or three parterres more filled with weeds
than flowers. I was much disgusted at finding this beautiful inclosure
so wretchedly neglected, and its luxuriant plants withering away for
want of being properly watered.

You may suppose, that after adding a walk in the principal alleys of the
garden to our other peregrinations, we began to find ourselves somewhat
fatigued, and were not sorry to repose ourselves in the Abbot’s
apartment till we were summoned once more to our tribune to hear matins
performed. It was growing dark, and the innumerable tapers burning
before the altars and in every part of the church, began to diffuse a
mysterious light. The organs joined again in full accord, the long
series of monks and novices entered with slow and solemn steps, and the
Abbot resumed his throne with the same pomp as at vespers. The Marquis
began muttering his orisons, the Grand Prior to recite his breviary, and
I to fall into a profound reverie, which lasted as long as the service,
that is to say above two hours. Verdeil, ready to expire with ennui,
could not help leaving the tribune and the cloud of incense which filled
the choir, to breathe a freer air in the body of the church and its
adjoining chapels.

It was almost nine when the monks, after chaunting a most solemn and
sonorous hymn in praise of their venerable father, Saint Augustine,
quitted the choir. We followed their procession through lofty chapels
and arched cloisters, which by a glimmering light appeared to have
neither roof nor termination, till it entered an octagon forty feet in
diameter, with fountains in the four principal angles. The monks, after
dispersing to wash their hands at the several fountains, again resumed
their order, and passed two-and-two under a portal thirty feet high into
a vast hall, communicating with their refectory by another portal of the
same lofty dimensions. Here the procession made a pause, for this
chamber is consecrated to the remembrance of the departed, and styled
the Hall de Profundis. Before every repast, the monks standing round it
in solemn ranks, silently revolve in their minds the precariousness of
our frail existence, and offer up prayers for the salvation of their
predecessors. I could not help being struck with awe when I beheld by
the glow of flaming lamps, so many venerable figures in their black and
white habits bending their eyes on the pavement, and absorbed in the
most interesting and gloomy of meditations.

The moment allotted to this solemn supplication being passed, every one
took his place at the long tables in the refectory, which are made of
Brazil-wood, and covered with the whitest linen. Each monk had his
glass caraffe of water and wine, his plate of apples and salad set
before him; neither fish nor flesh were served up, the vigil of St.
Augustine’s day being observed as a fast with the utmost strictness.

To enjoy at a glance this singular and majestic spectacle, we retreated
to a vestibule preceding the octagon, and from thence looked through all
the portals down the long row of lamps into the refectory, which, owing
to its vast length of full two hundred feet, seemed ending in a point.
After remaining a few minutes to enjoy this perspective, four monks
advanced with torches to light us out of the convent, and bid us
good-night with many bows and genuflections.

Our supper at the Capitan Mor’s was very cheerful. We sat up late,
notwithstanding our fatigue, talking over the variety of objects that
had passed before our eyes in so short a space of time, the crowd of
grotesque figures which had stuck to our heels so long and so closely,
and the awkward vivacity of the lay-brother.



LETTER XXIII.

     High mass.--Garden of the Viscount Ponte de Lima.--Leave Mafra.--An
     accident.--Return to Cintra.--My saloon.--Beautiful view from it.


August 28th, 1787.

I was half asleep, half awake, when the sonorous bells of the convent
struck my ears. The Marquis and Don Pedro’s voices in earnest
conversation with the Capitan Mor in the adjoining chamber, completely
roused me. We swallowed our coffee in haste; the Grand Prior reluctantly
left his pillow, and accompanied us to high mass. The monks once more
exerted their efforts to prevail on us to dine with them; but we
remained inflexible, and to avoid their importunities hastened away, as
soon as mass was ended, to the Viscount Ponte de Lima’s gardens, where
the deep shade of the bay and ilex skreened us from the excessive heat
of the sun.

The Marquis, seating himself by me near one of those clear and copious
fountains with which this magnificent Italian-looking garden is
refreshed and enlivened, entered into a most serious and semi-official
discourse about my stay in Portugal, and the means which were projecting
in a very high quarter to render it not only pleasant to myself, but of
some importance to many others.

       *       *       *       *       *

I felt relieved when the appearance of Don Pedro and his uncle, who had
been walking to the end of an immensely long avenue of pines, warded off
a conversation that began to press hard upon me. We returned altogether
to the Capitan Mor’s, and found dinner ready.

Both Don Pedro and myself were sorry to leave Mafra, and should have had
no objection to another race along the cloisters and dormitories with
the lay-brother. The evening was bright and clear, and the azure tints
of the distant sea inexpressibly lovely. We drove with a tumultuous
rapidity over the rough-paved roads, that the Marquis and I could hardly
hear a word we said to each other. Don Pedro had mounted his horse.
Verdeil, who preceded us in the carinho, seemed to outstrip the winds.
His mule, one of the most fiery and gigantic of her species, excited by
repeated floggings and the shout of a hulking Portuguese postilion,
perched up behind the carriage, galloped at an ungovernable rate; and at
about a league from the rocks of Cintra, thought proper to jerk out its
drivers into the midst of some bushes at the foot of a lofty bank,
nearly perpendicular, where they still remained sprawling when we passed
by.

Verdeil hobbled up to us, and pointed to the carinho in the ditch below.
Except a slight contusion in the knee, he had received no hurt. I
exclaimed immediately, that his escape was miraculous, and that,
doubtless, St. Anthony had some hand in it. My friend, who has always
the horrors of heresy before his eyes, whispered me that the devil had
saved him this time, but might not be so favourably disposed another.

It was not half-past five, when we reached Cintra. The Marchioness, the
Abade, and the children, were waiting our arrival.

Feeling my head in a whirl, and my ideas as much jolted and jumbled as
my body, I returned home just before it fell dark, to enjoy a few hours
of uninterrupted calm. The scenery of my ample saloon, its air of
seclusion, its silence, seemed to breathe a momentary tranquillity over
my spirits. The mat smoothly laid down, and formed of the finest and
most glossy straw, assumed by candlelight a delightful, soft, and
harmonious colour. It looked so cool and glistening that I stretched
myself upon it. There did I lie supine, contemplating the serene
summer-sky, and the moon rising slowly from behind the brow of a shrubby
hill. A faint breeze blowing aside the curtains, discovered the summit
of the woods in the garden, and beyond, a wide expanse of country,
terminated by plains of sea and hazy promontories.



LETTER XXIV.

     A saloon in the highest style of oriental decoration.--Amusing
     stories of King John the Fifth and his recluses.--Cheerful
     funeral.--Refreshing ramble to the heights of Penha Verde.


August 29th, 1787.

It was furiously hot, and I trifled away the whole morning in my
pavilion, surrounded by fidalgos in flowered bed-gowns, and musicians in
violet-coloured accoutrements, with broad straw-hats, like bonzes or
talapoins, looking as sunburnt, vacant, and listless, as the inhabitants
of Ormus or Bengal; so that my company as well as my apartment wore the
most decided oriental appearance: the divan raised a few inches above
the floor, the gilt trellis-work of the windows, and the pellucid
streams of water rising from a tank immediately beneath them, supplied
in endless succession by springs from the native rock.

An agreeable variety prevails in my Asiatic saloon; half its curtains
admit no light, and display the richest folds; the other half are
transparent, and cast a mild glow on the mat and sofas. Large clear
mirrors multiply this profusion of drapery, and several of my guests
seemed never tired of running from corner to corner, to view the
different groups of objects reflected on all sides in the most
unexpected directions, as if they fancied themselves admitted by
enchantment to peep into a labyrinth of magic chambers.

One of the party, a very shrewd old Italian priest, who had left his
native land before the too-famous earthquake shook more than the half of
Lisbon to its foundations, told me he remembered an apartment a good
deal in this style, that is to say, bedecked with mirrors and curtains,
in a sort of fairy palace communicating with the Nunnery of Odivellas,
so famous for the pious retirement of that paragon of splendour and
holiness, King John the Fifth. These were delightful days for the
monarch and the fair companions of his devotions.

“Oh!” said the old priest very judiciously, “of what avail is the finest
cage without birds to enliven it? Had you but heard the celestial
harmony of King John’s recluses, you would never have sat down contented
in your fine tent with the squalling of sopranos and the grumbling of
bass-viols. The silver, virgin tones I allude to, proceeding from the
holy recess into which no other male mortal except the monarch was ever
allowed to penetrate, had an effect I still remember with ecstasy,
though at the distance of so many years. Four of our finest singers, two
from Venice and two from Naples, attracted by a truly regal munificence,
added all that the most consummate taste and science could give to the
best voices in Portugal; the result was perfection.”

Aguilar, who came to dine with us, and whose mother, when in the bloom
of youth and beauty, had been not unfrequently invited to act the part
of perhaps more than audience at these edifying parties, confirmed all
the wonders the old Italian narrated, and added not a few of the same
gold and ruby colour in a strain so extravagantly enthusiastic, that
were I to repeat even half the glittering anecdotes he favoured me with,
upon the subject of Don John the Fifth’s unbounded fervour and
magnificence, your imagination would be completely dazzled.

Just as we had removed from the dinner to the dessert-table, which was
spread out upon a terrace fronting the principal alley of the gardens,
entered the abade Xavier, in full cry, with a rapturous story of the
conversion of an old consumptive Englishwoman, who, it seems, finding
herself upon the eve of departure, had called for a priest, to whom she
might confess, and abjure her errors of every description. Happening to
lodge at the Cintra inn, kept by a most flaming Irish Catholic, her
commendable desires were speedily complied with, and Mascarenhas and
Acciaoli, and two or three other priests and monsignors, summoned to
further the good work.

“Great,” said the abade, “are our rejoicings upon the occasion. This
very evening the aged innocent is to be buried in triumph: Marialva, San
Lorenzo, Asseca, and several more of the principal nobility are already
assembled to grace the festival; suppose you were to come with me and
join the procession?”

“With all my heart,” did I reply; “although I have no great taste for
funerals, so gay a one as this you talk of may form an exception.”

Off we set, driving as fast as most excellent mules could carry us, lest
we should come too late for the entertainment. A great mob was assembled
before the door. At one of the windows stood the grand prior, looking as
if he wished himself a thousand leagues away, and reciting his breviary.
I went up-stairs, and was immediately surrounded by the old Conde de San
Lorenzo and other believers, overflowing with congratulations.
Mascarenhas, one of the soundest limbs of the patriarchal establishment,
a capital devotee and seraphic doctor, was introduced to me. Acciaoli,
whom I was before acquainted with, skipped about the room, rubbing his
hands for joy, with a cunning leer on his jovial countenance, and
snapping his fingers at Satan, as much as to say, “I don’t care a d----
n for you. We have got one at least safe out of your clutches, and clear
at this very moment of the smoke of your cauldron.”

There was such a bustle in the interior apartment where the wretched
corpse was deposited, such a chaunting and praying, for not a tongue
was idle, that my head swam round, and I took refuge by the grand prior.
He by no means relished the party, and kept shrugging up his shoulders,
and saying that it was very edifying--very edifying indeed, and that
Acciaoli had been extremely alert, extremely active, and deserved great
commendation, but that so much fuss might as well have been spared.

By some hints that dropped, I won’t say from whom, I discovered the
innocent now on the high road to eternal felicity by no means to have
suffered the cup of joy to pass by untasted in this existence, and to
have lived many years on a very easy footing, not only with a stout
English bachelor, but with several others, married and unmarried, of his
particular acquaintance. However, she had taken a sudden tack upon
finding herself driven apace down the tide of a rapid consumption, and
had been fairly towed into port by the joint efforts of the Irish
hostess and the monsignori Mascarenhas and Acciaoli.

“Thrice happy Englishwoman,” exclaimed M--a, “what luck is thine! In
the next world immediate admission to paradise, and in this thy body
will have the proud distinction of being borne to the grave by men of
the highest rank.--Was there ever such felicity?”

The arrival of a band of priests and sacristans, with tapers lighted and
cross erected, called us to the scene of action. The procession being
marshalled, the corpse, dressed in virgin-white, lying snug in a sort of
rose-coloured bandbox with six silvered handles, was brought forth.
M----, who abhors the sight of a dead body, reddened up to his ears, and
would have given a good sum to make an honourable retreat; but no
retreat could now have been made consistent with piety: he was obliged
to conquer his disgust and take a handle of the bier. Another was placed
in the murderous gripe of the notorious San Vicente; another fell to the
poor old snuffling Conde de San Lorenzo; a fourth to the Viscount
d’Asseca, a mighty simple-looking young gentleman; the fifth and sixth
were allotted to the Capitaô Mor of Cintra, and to the judge, a gaunt
fellow with a hang-dog countenance.

No sooner did the grand prior catch sight of the ghastly visage of the
dead body as it was being conveyed down-stairs in the manner I have
recited, than he made an attempt to move on, and precede instead of
following the procession; but Acciaoli, who acted as master of the
ceremonies, would not let him off so easily: he allotted him the post of
honour immediately at the head of the corpse, and placed himself at his
left hand, giving the right to Mascarenhas. All the bells of Cintra
struck up a cheerful peal, and to their merry jinglings we hurried along
through a dense cloud of dust, a rabble of children frolicking on either
side, and their grandmothers hobbling after, telling their beads, and
grinning from ear to ear at this triumph over the prince of darkness.

Happily the way to the church was not long, or the dust would have
choked us. The grand prior kept his mouth close not to admit a particle
of it, but Acciaoli and his colleague were too full of their fortunate
exploit not to chatter incessantly. Poor old San Lorenzo, who is fat,
squat, and pursy, gasping for breath, stopped several times to rest on
his journey. Marialva, whom disgust rendered heartily fatigued with his
burthen, was very glad likewise to make a pause or two.

We found all the altars in the church blazing with lights, the grave
gaping for its immaculate inhabitant, and a numerous detachment of
priests and choristers waiting to receive the procession. The moment it
entered, the same hymn which is sung at the interment of babes and
sucklings burst forth from a hundred youthful voices, incense arose in
clouds, and joy and gladness shone in the eyes of the whole
congregation.

A murmur of applause and congratulation went round anew, those whom it
most concerned receiving with great affability and meekness the
compliments of the occasion. Old San Lorenzo, waddling up to the grand
prior, hugged him in his arms, and strewing him all over with snuff, set
him violently a-sneezing. San Vicente, as soon as the innocent was
safely deposited, retired in a sort of dudgeon, being never rightly at
ease in the presence of his brother-in-law Marialva. As for the latter
warm-hearted nobleman, exultation and triumph carried him beyond all
bounds of decorum. He scoffed bitterly at heretics, represented in their
true colours the actual happiness of the convert, and just as we left
the church, cried out loud enough for all those who were near to have
heard him, “_Elle se f----iche de nous tous à présent._”

Their pious toil being ended, Mascarenhas and Acciaoli accompanied us to
the heights of Penha Verde, to breathe a fresh air under the odoriferous
pines: then, returning in our company to Ramalhaô, partook of a nice
collation of iced fruit and sweetmeats, and concluded the evening with
much gratifying discourse about the lively scene we had just witnessed.



LETTER XXV.

     Anecdotes of the Conde de San Lorenzo.--Visit to Mrs.
     Guildermeester.--Toads active, and toads passive.--The old Consul
     and his tray of jewels.


The principal personages who had so piously distinguished themselves
yesterday dined with me this blessed afternoon. Old San Lorenzo has a
prodigious memory and a warm imagination, rendered still more glowing by
a slight touch of madness. He appears perfectly well acquainted with the
general politics of Europe, and though never beyond the limits of
Portugal, gave so circumstantial and plausible a detail of what
occurred, and of the part he himself acted at the congress of
Aix-la-Chapelle, that I was completely his dupe, and believed, until I
was let into the secret, that he had actually witnessed what he only
dreamt of. Notwithstanding the high favour he enjoyed with the infante
Don Pedro, Pombal cast him into a dungeon with the other victims of the
Aveiro conspiracy, and for eighteen most melancholy years was his active
mind reduced to prey upon itself for sustenance.

Upon the present queen’s accession he was released, and found his
intimate friend the Infante sharing the throne; but thinking himself
somewhat coolly received and shabbily neglected, he threw the key of
chamberlain which was sent him into a place of less dignity than
convenience, and retired to the convent of the Necessidades. No means, I
have been assured, were left untried by the king to soothe and flatter
him; but they all proved fruitless. Since this period, though he quitted
the convent, he has never appeared at court, and has refused all
employment. Devotion now absorbs his entire soul. Except when the chord
of imprisonment and Pombal is touched upon, he is calm and reasonable. I
found him extremely so to-day, and full of the most instructive and
amusing anecdote.

Coffee over, my company having stretched themselves out at full-length
most comfortably, some on the mat, and some on the sofas, to recruit
their spirits I suppose, after the pious toils and enthusiastic
procession of the day before, I prevailed upon Marialva to escort me to
Mrs. Guildermeester’s, whom we found in a vast but dingy saloon, her
toads squatting around her. She gave us some excellent tea, and a plain
sensible loaf of brown bread, accompanied by delicious butter, just
fresh from a genuine Dutch dairy, conducted upon the most immaculate
Dutch principles. Donna Genuefa, the toad-passive in waiting, is a
little jossish old woman, with a head as round as a humming-top, and a
large placid lip, very smiling and good-natured. Miss Coster, the
toad-active, has been rather pretty a few years ago, makes tea with
decorum, shuts doors and opens windows with judgment, and has a good
deal to say for herself when allowed to sit still on her chair.

We had scarcely begun complimenting the mistress of the house upon the
complete success of her cow-establishment, when the old consul her
spouse entered, with many bows and salutations, bearing a huge japan
tray, upon which was spread out in glittering profusion an ample
treasure, both of rough and well-lapidated brilliants, the fruits of his
famous and most lucrative contract in the days of Pombal. Some of the
largest diamonds, in superb though heavy Dutch or German settings, he
eagerly desired Marialva would recommend to the attention of the queen,
and whispered in my ear that he hoped I also would speak a good word for
him. I remained as deaf as an adder, and the Marquis as blind as a
beetle, to the splendour of the display; so he returned once more to his
interior cabinet, with all his hopes out of blossom, and we moved off.

Evening was drawing on, and a drizzling mist overspreading the crags of
Cintra. It did not, however, prevent us from going to Mr. Horne’s. We
passed under arching elms and chesnuts, whose moistened foliage exhaled
a fresh woody odour. High above the vapours, which were rolling away
just as we emerged from the shady avenue, appeared the turret of the
convent of the Penha, faintly tinted by the last rays of the sun, and
looking down, like the ark on Mount Ararat, on a sea of undulating
clouds.

At Horne’s, Aguilar, Bezerra, and the usual set were assembled. The
Marquis, as soon as he had made his condescending bows to the right and
left, retired to his villa, and I took Horne in my chaise to Mrs.
Staits, a little slender-waisted, wild-eyed woman, by no means
unpleasing or flinty-hearted. It was her birthday, and she had
congregated most of the English at Cintra, in a damp garden about
seventy feet long by thirty-two, illuminated by thirty or forty
lanterns. Mrs. Guildermeester was there, covered with diamonds, and
sparkling like a star in the midst of this murky atmosphere. We had a
cold funereal supper, under a low tent in imitation of a grotto.

Mrs. Staits’ well-disposed, easy-tempered husband placed me next Mrs.
Guildermeester, who amused herself tolerably well at the expense of the
entertainment. The dingy, subterraneous appearance of the booth, the wan
light of the lanterns sparingly scattered along it, and the fragrance of
a dish of rather mature prawns placed under my nose, seized me with the
idea of being dead and buried. “Alas!” said I to my fair neighbour, “it
is all over with us now, and this our first banquet in the infernal
regions; we are all equal and jumbled together. There sits the pious
presbyterian Mrs. Fussock, with that bridling miss her daughter, and
close to them those adulterous doves, Mr. ---- and his sultana. Here am
I, miserable sinner, right opposite your righteous and much enduring
spouse; a little lower our kind host, that pattern of conjugal meekness
and resignation. Hark! don’t you hear a lumbering noise? They are
letting down a cargo of heavy bodies into a neighbouring tomb.”

In this strain did we continue till the subject was exhausted, and it
was time to take our departure.



LETTER XXVI.

     Expected arrival at Cintra of the Queen and suite.--Duke
     d’Alafoins.--Excursion to a rustic Fair.--Revels of the
     Peasantry.--Night-scene at the Marialva Villa.


Sept. 10th, 1787.

Adieu to the tranquillity of Cintra, we shall soon have nothing but
hubbub and confusion. The queen is on the point of arriving with all her
maids of honour, secretaries of state, dwarfs, negresses and horses,
white, black, and pie-bald. Half the quintas around will be dried up,
military possession having been taken of the aqueducts, and their waters
diverted into new channels for the use of an encampment.

I was walking in a long arched bower of citron-trees, when M----
appeared at the end of the avenue, accompanied by the duke d’Alafoins.
This is the identical personage well-known in every part of Europe by
the appellation of Duke of Braganza. He has no right however, to wear
that illustrious title, which is merged in the crown. Were he called
Duchess Dowager, of anything you please, I think nobody would dispute
the propriety of his style, he being so like an old lady of the
bed-chamber, so fiddle-faddle and so coquettish. He had put on rouge and
patches, and though he has seen seventy winters, contrived to turn on
his heel and glide about with juvenile agility.

I was much surprised at the ease of his motions, having been told that
he was a martyr to the gout. After lisping French with a most refined
accent, complaining of the sun, and the roads, and the state of
architecture, he departed, (thank heaven!) to mark out a spot for the
encampment of the cavalry, which are to guard the queen’s sacred person
during her residence in these mountains. M---- was in duty bound to
accompany him; but left his son and his nephews, the heirs of the House
of Tancos, to dine with me.

In the evening, Verdeil, tired with sauntering about the verandas,
proposed a ride to a neighbouring village, where there was a fair. He
and Don Pedro mounted their horses, and preceded the young Tancos and me
in a garden-chair, drawn by a most resolute mule. The roads are
abominable, and lay partly along the sloping base of the Cintra
mountains, which in the spring, no doubt, are clothed with a tolerable
verdure, but at this season every blade of grass is parched and
withered. Our carriage-wheels, as we drove sideling along these slippery
declivities, pressed forth the odour of innumerable aromatic herbs, half
pulverized. Thicknesse perhaps would have said, in his original quaint
style, that nature was treating us with a pinch of her best cephalic. No
snuff, indeed, ever threw me into a more violent fit of sneezing.

I could hardly keep up my head when we arrived at the fair, which is
held on a pleasant lawn, bounded on one side by the picturesque
buildings of a convent of Hieronimites, and on the other by rocky hills,
shattered into a variety of uncouth romantic forms; one cliff in
particular, called the Pedra d’os Ovos, terminated by a cross, crowns
the assemblage, and exhibits a very grotesque appearance. Behind the
convent a thick shrubbery of olives, ilex, and citron, fills up a small
valley refreshed by fountains, whose clear waters are conducted through
several cloisters and gardens, surrounded by low marble columns,
supporting fretted arches in the morisco style.

The peasants assembled at the fair were scattered over the lawn; some
conversing with the monks, others half intoxicated, sliding off their
donkeys and sprawling upon the ground; others bargaining for silk-nets
and spangled rings, to bestow on their mistresses. The monks, who were
busily employed in administering all sorts of consolations, spiritual
and temporal, according to their respective ages and vocations, happily
paid us no kind of attention, so we escaped being stuffed with
sweetmeats, and worried with compliments.

At sunset we returned to Ramalhaô, and drank tea in its lantern-like
saloon, in which are no less than eleven glazed doors and windows of
large dimensions. The winds were still; the air balsamic; and the sky of
so soft an azure that we could not remain with patience under any other
canopy, but stept once more into our curricles and drove as far as the
Dutch consul’s new building, by the mingled light of innumerable stars.

It was after ten when we got back to the Marialva villa, and long before
we reached it, we heard the plaintive tones of voices and wind
instruments issuing from the thickets. On the margin of the principal
basin sat the marchioness and Donna Henriquetta, and a numerous group of
their female attendants, many of them most graceful figures, and
listening with all their hearts and souls to the rehearsal of some very
delightful music with which her majesty is to be serenaded a few
evenings hence.

It was one of those serene and genial nights when music acquires a
double charm, and opens the heart to tender, though melancholy
impressions. Not a leaf rustled, not a breath of wind disturbed the
clear flame of the lights which had been placed near the fountains, and
which just served to make them visible. The waters, flowing in rills
round the roots of the lemon-trees, formed a rippling murmur; and in the
pauses of the concert, no other sound except some very faint whisperings
was to be distinguished, so that the enchantment of climate, music, and
mystery, all contributed to throw my mind into a sort of trance from
which I was not roused again without a degree of painful reluctance.



LETTER XXVII.

     Curious scene in the interior of the palace of Cintra.--Singular
     invitation.--Dinner with the Archbishop Confessor.--Hilarity and
     shrewd remarks of that extraordinary personage.


September 12th, 1787.

I was hardly up before the grand prior and Mr. Street were announced:
the latter abusing kings, queens, and princes, with all his might, and
roaring after liberty and independence; the former complaining of fogs
and damps.

As soon as the advocate for republicanism had taken his departure, we
went by appointment to the archbishop confessor’s, and were immediately
admitted into his _sanctum sanctorum_, a snug apartment communicating by
a winding staircase with that of the queen, and hung with bright, lively
tapestry. A lay-brother, fat, round, buffoonical, and to the full as
coarse and vulgar as any carter or muleteer in christendom, entertained
us with some very amusing, though not the most decent, palace stories,
till his patron came forth.

Those who expect to see the Grand Inquisitor of Portugal, a doleful,
meagre figure, with eyes of reproof and malediction, would be
disappointed. A pleasanter or more honest countenance than that kind
heaven has blessed him with, one has seldom the comfort of looking upon.
He received me in the most open, cordial manner, and I have reason to
think I am in mighty favour.

We talked about archbishops in England being married. “Pray,” said the
prelate, “are not your archbishops strange fellows? consecrated in
ale-houses, and good bottle companions? I have been told that mad-cap
Lord Tyrawley was an archbishop at home.” You may imagine how much I
laughed at this inconceivable nonsense; and though I cannot say,
speaking of his right reverence, that “truths divine came mended from
his tongue,” it may be allowed, that nonsense itself became more
conspicuously nonsensical, flowing from so revered a source.

Whilst we sat in the windows of the saloon, listening to a band of
regimental music, we saw Joaô Antonio de Castro, the ingenious
mechanician, who invented the present method of lighting Lisbon, two or
three solemn dominicans, and a famous court fool[18] in a tawdry
gala-suit, bedizened with mock orders, coming up the steps which lead to
the great audience-chamber, all together. “Ay, ay,” said the
lay-brother, who is a shrewd, comical fellow, “behold a true picture of
our customers. Three sorts of persons find their way most readily into
this palace; men of superior abilities, buffoons, and saints; the first
soon lose what cleverness they possessed, the saints become martyrs, and
the buffoons alone prosper.”

To all this the Archbishop gave his hearty assent by a very significant
nod of the head; and being, as I have already told you, in a most
gracious, communicative disposition, would not permit me to go away,
when I rose up to take leave of him.

“No, no,” said he, “don’t think of quitting me yet awhile. Let us repair
to the hall of Swans, where all the court are waiting for me, and pray
tell me then what you think of our great fidalgos.”

Taking me by the tip of the fingers he led me along through a number of
shady rooms and dark passages to a private door, which opened from the
queen’s presence-chamber, into a vast saloon, crowded, I really believe,
by half the dignitaries of the kingdom; here were bishops, heads of
orders, secretaries of state, generals, lords of the bedchamber, and
courtiers of all denominations, as fine and as conspicuous as
embroidered uniforms, stars, crosses, and gold keys could make them.

The astonishment of this group at our sudden apparition was truly
laughable, and indeed, no wonder; we must have appeared on the point of
beginning a minuet--the portly archbishop in his monastic, flowing white
drapery, spreading himself out like a turkey in full pride, and myself
bowing and advancing in a sort of _pas-grave_, blinking all the while
like an owl in sunshine, thanks to my rapid transition from darkness to
the most glaring daylight.

Down went half the party upon their knees, some with petitions and some
with memorials; those begging for places and promotions, and these for
benedictions, of which my revered conductor was by no means prodigal. He
seemed to treat all these eager demonstrations of fawning servility with
the most contemptuous composure, and pushing through the crowd which
divided respectfully to give us passage, beckoned the Viscount Ponte de
Lima, the Marquis of Lavradio, the Count d’Obidos, and two or three of
the lords in waiting, into a mean little room, not above twenty by
fourteen.

After a deal of adulatory complimentation in a most subdued tone from
the circle of courtiers, for which they had got nothing in return but
rebuffs and gruntling, the Archbishop drew his chair close to mine, and
said with a very distinct and audible pronunciation, “My dear
Englishman, these are all a parcel of flattering scoundrels, do not
believe one word they say to you. Though they glitter like gold, mud is
not meaner--I know them well. Here,” continued he, holding up the flap
of my coat, “is a proof of English prudence, this little button to
secure the pocket is a precious contrivance, especially in grand
company, do not leave it off, do not adopt any of our fashions, or you
will repent it.”

This sally of wit was received with the most resigned complacency by
those who had inspired it, and, staring with all my eyes, and listening
with all my ears, I could hardly credit either upon seeing the most
complaisant gesticulations, and hearing the most abject protestations of
devoted attachment to his right reverence’s sacred person from all the
company.

There is no saying how long this tide of adulation would have continued
pouring on, if it had not been interrupted by a message from the queen,
commanding the confessor’s immediate attendance. Giving his garments a
hearty shake, he trudged off bawling out to me over his shoulder, “I
shall be back in half-an-hour, and you must dine with me.“--“Dine with
him!” exclaimed the company in chorus: “such an honour never befel any
one of us; how fortunate! how distinguished you are!”

Now, I must confess, I was by no means enchanted with this most peculiar
invitation; I had a much pleasanter engagement at Penha-Verde, one of
the coolest and most romantic spots in all this poetic district, and
felt no vocation to be cooped up in a close bandboxical apartment,
smelling of paint and varnish enough to give the head-ache; however,
there was no getting off. I was told that I must obey, for everybody in
these regions, high or low, the royal family themselves not excepted,
obeyed the archbishop, and that I ought to esteem myself too happy in so
agreeable an opportunity.

It would be only repeating what is known to every one, who knows any
thing of courts and courtiers, were I to add the flowery speeches, the
warm encomiums, I received from the finest feathered birds of this covey
upon my own transcendant perfections, and those of my host that was to
be. The half-hour, which, by-the-by, was more than three-quarters,
scarcely sufficed for half those very people had to say in my
commendation, who, a few days ago, were all reserve and indifference, if
I happened to approach them. My summons to this envied repast was
conveyed to me by no less a personage than the Marquis of M----, who,
with gladsome surprise in all his gestures, whispered me, “I am to be of
the party too, the first time in my life I can assure you; not a
creature besides is to be admitted; for my uncle is gone home tired of
waiting for you.”

We knocked at the private door, which was immediately opened, and
following the same passages through which I had been before conducted,
emerged into an ante-chamber looking into a very neat little kitchen,
where the lay-brother, with his sleeves tucked up to his shoulders, was
making hospitable preparation. A table with three covers was prepared in
the tapestry-room, and upon a sofa, in the corner of it, sat the
omnipotent prelate wrapped up in an old snuff-coloured great coat, sadly
patched and tattered.

“Come,” said he, clapping his hands after the oriental fashion, “serve
up and let us be merry--oh, these women, these women, above stairs, what
a plague it is to settle their differences! Who knows better than you,
Marquis, what enigmas they are to unriddle? I dare say the Englishman’s
archbishops have not half such puzzles to get over as I have: well, let
us see what we have got for you.”

Entered the lay-brother with three roasting-pigs, on a huge tray of
massive silver, and an enormous pillau, as admirable in quality as in
size; and so it had need to have been, for in these two dishes consisted
our whole dinner. I am told the fare at the Archbishop’s table never
varies, and roasting-pigs succeed roasting-pigs, and pillaus pillaus,
throughout all the vicissitudes of the seasons, except on certain
peculiar fast-days of supreme meagre.

The simplicity of this part of our entertainment was made up by the
profusion and splendour of our dessert, which exceeded in variety of
fruits and sweetmeats any one of which I had ever partaken. As to the
wines, they were admirable, the tribute of every part of the Portuguese
dominions offered up at this holy shrine. The Port Company, who are just
soliciting the renewal of their charter, had contributed the choicest
produce of their happiest vintages, and as I happened to commend its
peculiar excellence, my hospitable entertainer, whose good-humour seemed
to acquire every instant a livelier glow, insisted upon my accepting
several pipes of it, which were punctually sent me the next morning. The
Archbishop became quite jovial, and supposing I was not more insensible
to the joys of convivial potations than many of my countrymen, plied me
as often and as waggishly as if I had been one of his imaginary
archbishops, or Lord Tyrawley himself, returned from those cold
precincts where no dinners are given or bottle circulated.

The lay-brother was such a fountain of anecdote, the Archbishop in such
glee, and Marialva in such jubilation at being admitted to this
confidential party, that it is impossible to say how long it would have
lasted, had not the hour of her Majesty’s evening excursion approached,
and the Archbishop been called to accompany her. As Master of the Horse,
the Marquis could not dispense with his attendance, so I was left under
the guidance of the lay-brother, who, leading me through another
labyrinth of passages, opened a kind of wicket door, and let me out with
as little ceremony as he would have turned a goose adrift on a common.



LETTER XXVIII.

     Explore the Cintra Mountains.--Convent of Nossa Senhora da
     Penha.--Moorish Ruins.--The Cork Convent.--The Rock of
     Lisbon.--Marine Scenery.--Susceptible imagination of the Ancients
     exemplified.


Sept. 19th, 1787.

Never did I behold so fine a day, or a sky of such lovely azure. The
M---- were with me by half-past six, and we rode over wild hills, which
command a great extent of apparently desert country; for the villages,
if there are any, are concealed in ravines and hollows.

Intending to explore the Cintra mountains from one extremity to the
other of the range, we placed relays at different stations. Our first
object was the Convent of Nossa Senhora da Penha, the little romantic
pile of white buildings I had seen glittering from afar when I first
sailed by the coast of Lisbon. From this pyramidical elevation the view
is boundless: you look immediately down upon an immense expanse of sea,
the vast, unlimited Atlantic. A long series of detached clouds of a
dazzling whiteness, suspended low over the waves, had a magic effect,
and in pagan times might have appeared, without any great stretch of
fancy, the cars of marine divinities just risen from the bosom of their
element.

There was nothing very interesting in the objects immediately around us.
The Moorish remains in the neighbourhood of the convent are scarcely
worth notice, and indeed seem never to have made part of any
considerable edifice. They were probably built up with the dilapidations
of a Roman temple, whose constructors had perhaps in their turn availed
themselves of the fragments of a Punic or Tyrian fane raised on this
high place, and blackened with the smoke of some horrible sacrifice.

Amidst the crevices of the mouldering walls, and particularly in the
vault of a cistern, which seems to have served both as a reservoir and a
bath, I noticed some capillaries and polypodiums of infinite delicacy;
and on a little flat space before the convent a numerous tribe of
pinks, gentians, and other alpine plants, fanned and invigorated by the
pure mountain air. These refreshing breezes, impregnated with the
perfume of innumerable aromatic herbs and flowers, seemed to infuse new
life into my veins, and, with it, an almost irresistible impulse to fall
down and worship in this vast temple of Nature the source and cause of
existence.

As we had a very extensive ride in contemplation, I could not remain
half so long as I wished on this aërial and secluded summit. Descending
by a tolerably easy road, which wound amongst the rocks in many an
irregular curve, we followed for several miles a narrow tract over the
brow of savage and desolate eminences, to the Cork convent, which
answered exactly, at the first glance we caught of it, the picture one
represents to one’s self of the settlement of Robinson Crusoe. Before
the entrance, formed of two ledges of ponderous rock, extends a smooth
level of greensward, browsed by cattle, whose tinkling bells filled me
with recollections of early days passed amongst wild and alpine scenery.
The Hermitage, its cells, chapel, and refectory, are all scooped out of
the native marble, and lined with the bark of the cork-tree. Several of
the passages about it are not only roofed, but floored with the same
material, extremely soft and pleasant to the feet. The shrubberies and
garden plats, dispersed amongst the mossy rocks which lie about in the
wildest confusion, are delightful, and I took great pleasure in
exploring their nooks and corners, following the course of a
transparent, gurgling rill, which is conducted through a rustic
water-shoot, between bushes of lavender and rosemary of the tenderest
green.

The Prior of this romantic retirement is appointed by the Marialvas, and
this very day his installation takes place, so we were pressed to dine
with him upon the occasion, and could not refuse; but as it was still
very early, we galloped on, intending to visit a famous cliff, the Pedra
d’Alvidrar, which composes one of the most striking features of that
renowned promontory the Rock of Lisbon.

Our road led us through the skirts of the woods which surround the
delightful village of Collares, to another range of barren eminences
extending along the sea-shore. I advanced to the very margin of the
cliff, which is of great height, and nearly perpendicular. A rabble of
boys followed at the heels of our horses, and five stout lads, detached
from this posse, descended with the most perfect unconcern the dreadful
precipice. One in particular walked down with his arms expanded, like a
being of a superior order. The coast is truly picturesque, and consists
of bold projections, intermixed with pyramidical rocks succeeding each
other in theatrical perspective, the most distant crowned by a lofty
tower, which serves as a lighthouse.

No words can convey an adequate idea of the bloom of the atmosphere, and
the silvery light reflected from the sea. From the edge of the abyss,
where I had remained several minutes like one spell-bound, we descended
a winding path, about half a mile, to the beach. Here we found ourselves
nearly shut in by shattered cliffs and grottos, a fantastic
amphitheatre, the best calculated that can possibly be imagined to
invite the sports of sea nymphs. Such coves, such deep and broken
recesses, such a play of outline I never beheld, nor did I ever hear so
powerful a roar of rushing waters upon any other coast. No wonder the
warm and susceptible imagination of the ancients, inflamed by the
scenery of the place, led them to believe they distinguished the conchs
of tritons sounding in these retired caverns; nay, some grave
Lusitanians positively declared they had not only heard, but seen them,
and despatched a messenger to the Emperor Tiberius to announce the
event, and congratulate him upon so evident and auspicious a
manifestation of divinity.

The tide was beginning to ebb, and allowed us, not without some risk
however, to pass into a cavern of surprising loftiness, the sides of
which were incrusted with beautiful limpets, and a variety of small
shells grouped together. Against some rude and porous fragments, not far
from the aperture through which we had crept, the waves swell with
violence, rush into the air, form instantaneous canopies of foam, then
fall down in a thousand trickling rills of silver. The flickering gleams
of light thrown upon irregular arches admitting into darker and more
retired grottos, the mysterious, watery gloom, the echoing murmurs and
almost musical sounds, occasioned by the conflict of winds and waters,
the strong odour of an atmosphere composed of saline particles, produced
altogether such a bewildering effect upon the senses, that I can easily
conceive a mind, poetically given, might be thrown into that kind of
tone which inclines to the belief of supernatural appearances. I am not
surprised, therefore, at the credulity of the ancients, and only wonder
my own imagination did not deceive me in a similar manner.

If solitude could have induced the Nereids to have vouchsafed me an
apparition, it was not wanting, for all my company had separated upon
different pursuits, and had left me entirely to myself. During the full
half-hour I remained shut out from the breathing world, one solitary
corvo marino was the only living creature I caught sight of, perched
upon an insulated rock, about fifty paces from the opening of the
cavern.

I was so stunned with the complicated sounds and murmurs which filled my
ears, that it was some moments before I could distinguish the voices of
Verdeil and Don Pedro, who were just returned from a hunt after
seaweeds and madrapores, calling me loudly to mount on horseback, and
make the best of our way to rejoin the Marquis and his attendants, all
gone to mass at the Cork convent. Happily, the little detached clouds we
had seen from the high point of Nossa Senhora da Penha, instead of
melting into the blue sky, had been gathering together, and skreened us
from the sun. We had therefore a delightful ride, and upon alighting
from our palfreys found the old abade just arrived with Luis de Miranda,
the colonel of the Cascais regiment, surrounded by a whole synod of
monks, as picturesque as bald pates and venerable beards could make
them.

As soon as the Marquis came forth from his devotions, dinner was served
up exactly in the style one might have expected at Mequinez or
Morocco--pillaus of different kinds, delicious quails, and pyramids of
rice tinged with saffron. Our dessert, in point of fruits and
sweetmeats, was most luxurious, nor would Pomona herself have been
ashamed of carrying in her lap such peaches and nectarines as rolled in
profusion about the table.

The abade seemed animated after dinner by the spirit of contradiction,
and would not allow the Marquis or Luis de Miranda to know more about
the court of John the Fifth, than of that of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.

To avoid being stunned by the clamours of the dispute, in which two or
three monks with stentorian voices began to take part most vehemently,
Don Pedro, Verdeil, and I climbed up amongst the hanging shrubberies of
arbutus, bay, and myrtle, to a little platform carpeted with delicate
herbage, exhaling a fresh, aromatic perfume upon the slightest pressure.
There we sat, lulled by the murmur of distant waves, breaking over the
craggy shore we had visited in the morning. The clouds came slowly
sailing over the hills. My companions pounded the cones of the pines,
and gave me the kernels, which have an agreeable almond taste.

The evening was far advanced before we abandoned our peaceful,
sequestered situation, and joined the Marquis, who had not been yet able
to appease the abade. The vociferous old man made so many appeals to the
father-guardian of the convent in defence of his opinions, that I
thought we never should have got away. At length we departed, and after
wandering about in clouds and darkness for two hours, reached Cintra
exactly at ten. The Marchioness and the children had been much alarmed
at our long absence, and rated the abade severely for having occasioned
it.



LETTER XXIX.

     Excursion to Penha Verde.--Resemblance of that Villa to the
     edifices in Gaspar Poussin’s landscapes.--The ancient pine-trees,
     said to have been planted by Don John de Castro.--The old forests
     displaced by gaudy terraces.--Influx of Visiters.--A celebrated
     Prior’s erudition and strange anachronisms.--The Beast in the
     Apocalypse.--Œcolampadius.--Bevy of Palace damsels.--Fête at the
     Marialva Villa.--The Queen and the Royal Family.--A favourite dwarf
     Negress.--Dignified manner of the Queen.--Profound respect inspired
     by her presence.--Rigorous etiquette.--Grand display of
     Fireworks.--The young Countess of Lumiares.--Affecting resemblance.


September 22nd, 1787.

When I got up, the mists were stealing off the hills, and the distant
sea discovering itself in all its azure bloom. Though I had been led to
expect many visiters of importance from Lisbon, the morning was so
inviting that I could not resist riding out after breakfast, even at the
risk of not being present at their arrival.

I took the road to Collares, and found the air delightfully soft and
fragrant. Some rain which had lately fallen, had refreshed the whole
face of the country, and tinged the steeps beyond Penha Verde with
purple and green; for the numerous tribe of heaths had started into
blossom, and the little irregular lawns, overhung by crooked cork-trees,
which occur so frequently by the way-side, are now covered with large
white lilies streaked with pink.

Penha Verde itself is a lovely spot. The villa, with its low, flat
roofs, and a loggia projecting at one end, exactly resembles the
edifices in Gaspar Poussin’s landscapes. Before one of the fronts is a
square parterre with a fountain in the middle, and niches in the walls
with antique busts. Above these walls a variety of trees and shrubs rise
to a great elevation, and compose a mass of the richest foliage. The
pines, which, by their bright-green colour, have given the epithet of
verdant to this rocky point (Penha Verde), are as picturesque as those I
used to admire so warmly in the Negroni garden at Rome, and full as
ancient, perhaps more so: tradition assures us they were planted by the
far-famed Don John de Castro, whose heart reposes in a small marble
chapel beneath their shade.

How often must that heroic heart, whilst it still beat in one of the
best and most magnanimous of human bosoms, have yearned after this calm
retirement! Here, at least, did it promise itself that rest so cruelly
denied him by the blind perversities of his ungrateful countrymen: for
his had been an arduous contest, a long and agonizing struggle, not only
in the field under a burning sun, and in the face of peril and death,
but in sustaining the glory and good fame of Portugal against court
intrigues, and the vile cabals of envious, domestic enemies.

These scenes, though still enchanting, have most probably undergone
great changes since his days. The deep forests we read of have
disappeared, and with them many a spring they fostered. Architectural
fountains, gaudy terraces, and regular stripes of orange-gardens, have
usurped the place of those wild orchards and gushing rivulets he may be
supposed to have often visited in his dreams, when removed some thousand
leagues from his native country. All these are changed; but mankind are
the same as in his time, equally insensible to the warning voice of
genuine patriotism, equally disposed to crouch under the rod of corrupt
tyranny. And thus, by the neglect of wise and virtuous men, and a mean
subserviency to knavish fools, eras which might become of gold, are
transmuted by an accursed alchymy into iron rusted with blood.

Impressed with all the recollections this most interesting spot could
not fail to inspire, I could hardly tear myself away from it. Again and
again did I follow the mossy steps, which wind up amongst shady rocks to
the little platform, terminated by the sepulchral chapel--

        “----densis quam pinus opacat
    Frondibus et nulla lucos agitante procella
    Stridula coniferis modulatur carmina ramis.”

You must not wonder then, that I was haunted the whole way home by these
mysterious whisperings, nor that, in such a tone of mind, I saw with no
great pleasure a procession of two-wheeled chaises, the lord knows how
many out-riders, and a caravan of bouras, marching up to the gate of my
villa. I had, indeed, been prepared to expect a very considerable influx
of visiters; but this was a deluge.

Do not let me send you a catalogue of the company, lest you should be as
much annoyed with the detail, as I was with such a formidable arrival
_en masse_. Let it suffice to name two of the principal characters, the
old pious Conde de San Lorenzo, and the prior of San Juliaô, one of the
archbishop’s prime favourites, and a person of great worship. Mortier’s
Dutch bible happening to lie upon the table, they began tumbling over
the leaves in an egregiously awkward manner. I, who abhor seeing books
thumbed, and prints demonstrated by the close application of a greasy
fore-finger, snapped at the old Conde, and cast an evil look at the
prior, who was leaning his whole priestly weight on the volume, and
creasing its corners.

My musicians were in full song, and Pedro Grua, a capital violoncello,
exerted his abilities in his best style; but San Lorenzo was too
pathetically engaged in deploring the massacre of the Innocents to pay
him any attention, and his reverend companion had entered into a
long-winded dissertation upon parables, miracles, and martyrdom, from
which I prayed in vain the Lord to deliver me. Verdeil, scenting from
afar the saintly flavour of the discourse, stole off.

I cannot say much in praise of the prior’s erudition, even in holy
matters, for he positively affirmed that it was Henry the Eighth
himself, who knocked St. Thomas à Becket’s brains out, and that by the
beast in the Apocalypse, Luther was positively indicated. I hate
wrangles, and had it not been for the soiling of my prints, should never
have contradicted his reverence; but as I was a little out of humour, I
lowered him somewhat in the Conde’s opinion, by stating the real period
of St. Thomas’s murder, and by tolerably specious arguments, shoving the
beast’s horns off Luther, and clapping them tight upon--whom do you
think?--Œcolampadius! So grand a name, which very probably they had
never heard pronounced in their lives, carried all before it, (adding
another instance of the triumph of sound over sense,) and settled our
bickerings.

We sat down, I believe, full thirty to dinner, and had hardly got
through the dessert, when Berti came in to tell me that Madame Ariaga,
and a bevy of the palace damsels, were prancing about the quinta on
palfreys and bouras. I hastened to join them. There was Donna Maria do
Carmo, and Donna Maria da Penha, with her hair flowing about her
shoulders, and her large beautiful eyes looking as wild and roving as
those of an antelope. I called for my horse, and galloped through alleys
and citron bushes, brushing off leaves, fruit, and blossoms. Every
breeze wafted to us the sound of French horns and oboes. The ladies
seemed to enjoy the freedom and novelty of this scamper prodigiously,
and to regret the short time it was doomed to last; for at seven they
are obliged to return to strict attendance on the Queen, and had some
strange fairy-tale metamorphosis into a pumpkin or a cucumber been the
penalty of disobedience, they could not have shown more alarm or anxiety
when the fatal hour of seven drew near. Luckily, they had not far to go,
for her Majesty and the Royal Family were all assembled at the Marialva
villa, to partake of a splendid merenda and see fireworks.

As soon as it fell dark Verdeil and I set forth to catch a glimpse of
the royal party. The Grand Prior and Don Pedro conducted us mysteriously
into a snug boudoir which looks into the great pavilion, whose gay,
fantastic scenery appeared to infinite advantage by the light of
innumerable tapers reflected on all sides from lustres of glittering
crystal. The little Infanta Donna Carlotta was perched on a sofa in
conversation with the Marchioness and Donna Henriquetta, who, in the
true oriental fashion, had placed themselves cross-legged on the floor.
A troop of maids of honour, commanded by the Countess of Lumieres, sat
in the same posture at a little distance. Donna Rosa, the favourite
dwarf negress, dressed out in a flaming scarlet riding-habit, not so
frolicsome as the last time I had the pleasure of seeing her in this
fairy bower, was more sentimental, and leaned against the door, ogling
and flirting with a handsome Moor belonging to the Marquis.

Presently the Queen, followed by her sister and daughter-in-law, the
Princess of Brazil, came forth from her merenda, and seated herself in
front of the latticed-window, behind which I was placed. Her manner
struck me as being peculiarly dignified and conciliating. She looks born
to command; but at the same time to make that high authority as much
beloved as respected. Justice and clemency, the motto so glaringly
misapplied on the banner of the abhorred Inquisition, might be
transferred with the strictest truth to this good princess. During the
fatal contest betwixt England and its colonies, the wise neutrality she
persevered in maintaining was of the most vital benefit to her
dominions, and hitherto, the native commerce of Portugal has attained
under her mild auspices an unprecedented degree of prosperity.

Nothing could exceed the profound respect, the courtly decorum her
presence appeared to inspire. The Conde de Sampayo and the Viscount
Ponte de Lima knelt by the august personages with not much less
veneration, I should be tempted to imagine, than Moslems before the tomb
of their prophet, or Tartars in the presence of the Dalai Lama. Marialva
alone, who took his station opposite her Majesty, seemed to preserve his
ease and cheerfulness. The Prince of Brazil and Don Joaô looked not a
little ennuied; for they kept stalking about with their hands in their
pockets, their mouths in a perpetual yawn, and their eyes wandering
from object to object, with a stare of royal vacancy.

A most rigorous etiquette confining the Infants of Portugal within their
palaces, they are seldom known to mix even incognito with the crowd; so
that their flattering smiles or confidential yawns are not lavished upon
common observers. This sort of embalming princes alive, after all, is no
bad policy; it keeps them sacred; it concentrates their royal essence,
too apt, alas! to evaporate by exposure. What is so liberally paid for
by the willing tribute of the people as a rarity of exquisite relish,
should not be suffered to turn mundungus. However the individual may
dislike this severe regimen, state pageants might have the goodness to
recollect for what purpose they are bedecked and beworshipped.

The Conde de Sampayo, lord in waiting, handed the tea to the Queen, and
fell down on both knees to present it. This ceremony over, for every
thing is ceremony at this stately court, the fireworks were announced,
and the royal sufferers, followed by their sufferees, adjourned to a
neighbouring apartment. The Marchioness, her daughters, and the
Countess of Lumieres, mounted up to the boudoir where I was sitting,
and took possession of the windows. Seven or eight wheels, and as many
tourbillons began whirling and whizzing, whilst a profusion of admirable
line-rockets darted along in various directions, to the infinite delight
of the Countess of Lumieres, who, though hardly sixteen, has been
married four years. Her youthful cheerfulness, light hair, and fair
complexion, put me so much in mind of my Margaret, that I could not help
looking at her with a melancholy tenderness: her being with child
increased the resemblance, and as she sat in the recess of the window,
discovered at intervals by the blue light of rockets bursting high in
the air, I felt my blood thrill as if I beheld a phantom, and my eyes
were filled with tears.

The last firework being played off, the Queen and the Infantas departed.
The Marchioness and the other ladies descended into the pavilion, where
we partook of a magnificent and truly royal collation. Donna Maria and
her little sister, animated by the dazzling illumination, tripped about
in their light muslin dresses, with all the sportiveness of fairy
beings, such as might be supposed to have dropped down from the floating
clouds, which Pillement has so well represented on the ceiling.



LETTER XXX.

     Cathedral of Lisbon.--Trace of St. Anthony’s fingers.--The Holy
     Crows.--Party formed to visit them.--A Portuguese
     poet.--Comfortable establishment of the Holy Crows.--Singular
     tradition connected with them.--Illuminations in honour of the
     Infanta’s accouchement.--Public harangues.--Policarpio’s singing,
     and anecdotes of the _haute noblesse_.


November 8th, 1787.

Verdeil and I rattled over cracked pavements this morning in my rough
travelling-coach, for the sake of exercise. The pretext for our
excursion was to see a remarkable chapel, inlaid with jasper and
lapis-lazuli, in the church of St. Roch; but when we arrived, three or
four masses were celebrating, and not a creature sufficiently disengaged
to draw the curtain which veils the altar, so we went out as wise as we
came in.

Not having yet seen the cathedral, or See-church, as it is called at
Lisbon, we directed our course to that quarter. It is a building of no
striking dimensions, narrow and gloomy, without being awful. The
earthquake crumbled its glories to dust, if ever it had any, and so
dreadfully shattered the chapels, with which it is clustered, that very
slight traces of their having made part of a mosque are discernible.

Though I had not been led to expect great things, even from descriptions
in travels and topographical works, which, like peerage-books and
pedigrees, are tenderly inclined to make something of what is next to
nothing at all: I hunted away, as became a diligent traveller, after
altar-pieces and tombs, but can boast of no discoveries. To be sure, we
had not much time to look about us: the priests and sacristans, who
fastened upon us, insisted upon our revisiting the corner of a bye
staircase, where are to be kissed and worshipped the traces of St.
Anthony’s fingers. The saint, it seems, being closely pursued by the
father of lies and parent of evil, alias Old Scratch, (I really could
not clearly learn upon what occasion,) indented the sign of the cross
into a wall of the hardest marble, and stopped his proceedings. A very
pleasing little picture hangs up near the miraculous cross, and records
the tradition.

All this was admirable; but nothing in comparison with some stories
about certain holy crows. “The very birds are in being,” said a
sacristan. “What!” answered I, “the individual[19] crows who attended
St. Vincent?”--“Not exactly,” was the reply, (in a whisper, intended for
my private ear); “but their immediate descendants.”--“Mighty well; this
very evening, please God, I will pay my respects to them, and in good
company, so adieu for the present.”

Our next point was the Theatine convent. We looked into the library,
which lies in the same confusion in which it was left by the earthquake;
half the books out of their shelves, tumbled one over the other in dusty
heaps. A shrewd, active monk, who, I am told, has written a history of
the House of Braganza, not yet printed, guided our steps through this
chaos of literature; and after searching half-an-hour for some curious
voyages he wished to display to us, led us into his cell, and pressed
our attention to a cabinet of medals he had been at some pains and
expense in collecting.

Not feeling any particular vocation for numismatic researches, I left
Verdeil with the monk, puzzling out some very questionable inscriptions,
and went to beat up for recruits to accompany me in the evening to the
holy crows. First, I found the Abade Xavier, and secondly, the famous
missionary preacher from Boa Morte, and then the Grand Prior, and
lastly, the Marquis of Marialva; Don Pedro begged not to be left out, so
we formed a coach full, and I drove my whole cargo home to dinner.
Verdeil was already returned with his reverend medallist, and had also
collected the governor of Goa, Don Frederic de Sousa Cagliariz, his
constant attendant a bullying Savoyard, or Piedmontese Count, by name
Lucatelli; and a pale, limber, odd-looking young man, Senhor Manuel
Maria, the queerest, but, perhaps, the most original of God’s poetical
creatures. He happened to be in one of those eccentric, lively moods,
which, like sunshine in the depth of winter, come on when least
expected. A thousand quaint conceits, a thousand flashes of wild
merriment, a thousand satirical darts shot from him, and we were all
convulsed with laughter; but when he began reciting some of his
compositions, in which great depth of thought is blended with the most
pathetic touches, I felt myself thrilled and agitated. Indeed, this
strange and versatile character may be said to possess the true wand of
enchantment, which, at the will of its master, either animates or
petrifies.

Perceiving how much I was attracted towards him, he said to me, “I did
not expect an Englishman would have condescended to pay a young,
obscure, modern versifier, any attention. You think we have no bard but
Camoens, and that Camoens has written nothing worth notice, but the
Lusiad. Here is a sonnet worth half the Lusiad.

              CXCII.

    ‘A fermosura desta fresca serra,
     E a sombra dos verdes castanheiros,
     O manso caminhar destes ribeiros,
     Donde toda a tristeza se desterra;
     O rouco som do mar, a estranha terra,
     O esconder do Sol pellos outeiros,
     O recolher dos gados derradeiros,
     Das nuvens pello ar a branda guerra:
     Em fim tudo o que a rara natureza
     Com tanta variedade nos ofrece,
     Me està (se não te vejo) magoando:
     Sem ti tudo me enoja, e me aborrece,
     Sem ti perpetuamente estou passando
     Nas mòres alegrias, mòr tristeza!’

Not an image of rural beauty has escaped our divine poet; and how
feelingly are they applied from the landscape to the heart! What a
fascinating languor, like the last beams of an evening sun, is thrown
over the whole composition! If I am any thing, this sonnet has made me
what I am; but what am I, compared to Monteiro? Judge,” continued he,
putting into my hand some manuscript verses of this author, to whom the
Portuguese are vehemently partial. Though they were striking and
sonorous, I must confess the sonnet of Camoens, and many of Senhor
Manuel Maria’s own verses, pleased me infinitely more; but in fact, I
was not sufficiently initiated into the force and idiom of the
Portuguese language to be a competent judge; and it was only in fancying
me one, that this powerful genius discovered any want of penetration.

Our dinner was lively and convivial. At the dessert the Abadè produced
an immense tray of dried fruits and sweetmeats, which one of his hundred
and fifty _protégés_ had sent him from, I forget what exotic region.
These good things he kept handing to us, and almost cramming down our
throats, as if we had been turkeys and he a poulterer, whose livelihood
depended upon our fattening. “There,” said he, “did you ever behold such
admirable productions? Our Queen has thousands and thousands of miles
with fruit-groves over your head, and rocks of gold and diamonds beneath
your feet. The riches and fertility of her possessions have no bounds,
but the sea, and the sea itself might belong to us if we pleased; for we
have such means of ship-building, masts two hundred feet high,
incorruptible timbers, courageous seamen. Don Frederic can tell you what
some of our heroes achieved not long ago against the gentiles at Goa.
Your Joaô Bulles are not half so smart, half so valorous.”

Thus he went on, bouncing and roaring us deaf. For patriotic
rodomontades and flourishes, no nation excels the Portuguese, and no
Portuguese the Abadè!

At length, however, all this tasting and praising having been gone
through with, we set forth on the wings of holiness, to pay our devoirs
to the holy crows. A certain sum having been allotted time immemorial
for the maintenance of two birds of this species, we found them very
comfortably established in a recess of a cloister adjoining the
cathedral, well fed and certainly most devoutly venerated.

The origin of this singular custom dates as high as the days of St.
Vincent, who was martyrized near the Cape, which bears his name, and
whose mangled body was conveyed to Lisbon in a boat, attended by crows.
These disinterested birds, after seeing it decently interred, pursued
his murderers with dreadful screams and tore their eyes out. The boat
and the crows are painted or sculptured in every corner of the
cathedral, and upon several tablets appear emblazoned an endless record
of their penetration in the discovery of criminals.

It was growing late when we arrived, and their feathered sanctities were
gone quietly to roost; but the sacristans in waiting, the moment they
saw us approach, officiously roused them. O, how plump and sleek, and
glossy they are! My admiration of their size, their plumage, and their
deep-toned croakings carried me, I fear, beyond the bounds of saintly
decorum. I was just stretching out my hand to stroke their feathers,
when the missionary checked me with a solemn forbidding look. The rest
of the company, aware of the proper ceremonial, kept a respectful
distance, whilst the sacristan and a toothless priest, almost bent
double with age, communicated a long string of miraculous anecdotes
concerning the present holy crows, their immediate predecessors, and
other holy crows in the old time before them.

To all these super-marvellous narrations, the missionary appeared to
listen with implicit faith, and never opened his lips during the time we
remained in the cloister, except to enforce our veneration, and exclaim
with pious composure, “_honrado corvo_.” I really believe we should have
stayed till midnight, had not a page arrived from her Majesty to summon
the Marquis of M---- and his almoner away.

My curiosity being fully satisfied upon the subject of the holy crows, I
was easily persuaded by the Grand Prior to move off, and drive through
the principal streets to see the illuminations in honour of the Infanta,
consort to Don Gabriel of Spain, who had produced a prince. A great
many idlers being abroad upon the same errand, we proceeded with
difficulty, and were very near having the wheels of our carriage
dislocated in attempting to pass an old-fashioned, preposterous coach,
belonging to one of the dignitaries of the patriarchal cathedral. I
cannot launch forth in praise of the illuminations; but some rockets
which were let off in the Terreiro do Paco, surprised me by the vast
height to which they rose, and the unusual number of clear blue stars
into which they burst. The Portuguese excel in fireworks; the late poor,
drivelling, saintly king having expended large sums in bringing this art
to perfection.

From the Terreiro do Paco we drove to the great square, in which the
palace of the Inquisition is situated. There we found a vast mob, to
whom three or four Capuchin preachers were holding forth upon the
glories and illuminations of a better world. I should have listened not
uninterested to their harangues, which appeared, from the specimen I
caught of them, to be full of fire and frenzy, had not the Grand Prior,
in perpetual awe of the rheumatism, complained of the night, so we
drove home. Every apartment of the house was filled with the thick
vapour of wax-torches, which had been set most loyally a blazing. I
fumed and fretted and threw open the windows. Away went the Grand Prior,
and in came Policarpio, the famous tenor singer, who entertained us with
several bravura airs of glib and surprising volubility, before supper
and during it, in a style equally professional, with many private
anecdotes of the _haute noblesse_, his principal employers, not
infinitely to their advantage.

I longed, in return, to have enlarged a little upon the adventures of
the holy crows, but prudently repressed my inclination. It would
ill-become a person so well treated as I had been by the crow-fanciers,
to handle such subjects with any degree of levity.



LETTER XXXI.

     Rambles in the Valley of Collares.--Elysian scenery. Song of a
     young female peasant.--Rustic hospitality.--Interview with the
     Prince of Brazil[20] in the plains of Cascais.--Conversation with
     His Royal Highness.--Return to Ramalhaô.


Oct. 19th, 1787.

My health improves every day. The clear exhilarating weather we now
enjoy calls forth the liveliest sense of existence. I ride, walk, and
climb, as long as I please, without fatiguing myself. The valley of
Collares affords me a source of perpetual amusement. I have discovered a
variety of paths which lead through chesnut copses and orchards to
irregular green spots, where self-sown bays and citron-bushes hang wild
over the rocky margin of a little river, and drop their fruit and
blossoms into the stream. You may ride for miles along the bank of this
delightful water, catching endless perspectives of flowery thickets,
between the stems of poplar and walnut. The scenery is truly elysian,
and exactly such as poets assign for the resort of happy spirits.

The mossy fragments of rock, grotesque pollards, and rustic bridges you
meet with at every step, recall Savoy and Switzerland to the
imagination; but the exotic cast of the vegetation, the vivid green of
the citron, the golden fruitage of the orange, the blossoming myrtle,
and the rich fragrance of a turf, embroidered with the
brightest-coloured and most aromatic flowers, allow me without a violent
stretch of fancy to believe myself in the garden of the Hesperides, and
to expect the dragon under every tree. I by no means like the thoughts
of abandoning these smiling regions, and have been twenty times on the
point this very day of revoking the orders I have given for my journey.
Whatever objections I may have had to Portugal seem to vanish, since I
have determined to leave it; for such is the perversity of human nature,
that objects appear the most estimable precisely at the moment when we
are going to lose them.

There was this morning a mild radiance in the sunbeams, and a balsamic
serenity in the air, which infused that voluptuous listlessness, that
desire of remaining imparadised in one delightful spot, which, in
classical fictions, was supposed to render those who had tasted the
lotos forgetful of country, of friends, and of every tie. My feelings
were not dissimilar, I loathed the idea of moving away.

Though I had entered these beautiful orchards soon after sunrise, the
clocks of some distant conventual churches had chimed hour after hour
before I could prevail upon myself to quit the spreading odoriferous
bay-trees under which I had been lying. If shades so cool and fragrant
invited to repose, I must observe that never were paths better
calculated to tempt the laziest of beings to a walk, than those which
opened on all sides, and are formed of a smooth dry sand, bound firmly
together, composing a surface as hard as gravel.

These level paths wind about amongst a labyrinth of light and elegant
fruit-trees; almond, plum, and cherry, something like the groves of
Tonga-taboo, as represented in Cook’s voyages; and to increase the
resemblance, neat cane fences and low open sheds, thatched with reeds,
appear at intervals, breaking the horizontal lines of the perspective.

I had now lingered and loitered away pretty nearly the whole morning,
and though, as far as scenery could authorize and climate inspire, I
might fancy myself an inhabitant of elysium, I could not pretend to be
sufficiently ethereal to exist without nourishment. In plain English, I
was extremely hungry. The pears, quinces, and oranges which dangled
above my head, although fair to the eye, were neither so juicy nor
gratifying to the palate, as might have been expected from their
promising appearance.

Being considerably

    More than a mile immersed within the wood,[21]

and not recollecting by which clue of a path I could get out of it, I
remained at least half-an-hour deliberating which way to turn myself.
The sheds and enclosures I have mentioned were put together with care
and even nicety, it is true, but seemed to have no other inhabitants
than flocks of bantams, strutting about and destroying the eggs and
hopes of many an insect family. These glistening fowls, like their
brethren described in Anson’s voyages, as animating the profound
solitudes of the island of Tinian, appeared to have no master.

At length, just as I was beginning to wish myself very heartily in a
less romantic region, I heard the loud, though not unmusical, tones of a
powerful female voice, echoing through the arched green avenues;
presently, a stout ruddy young peasant, very picturesquely attired in
brown and scarlet, came hoydening along, driving a mule before her,
laden with two enormous panniers of grapes. To ask for a share of this
luxuriant load, and to compliment the fair driver, was instantaneous on
my part, but to no purpose. I was answered by a sly wink, “We all belong
to Senhor Josè Dias, whose corral, or farm-yard, is half a league
distant. There, Senhor, if you follow that road, and don’t puzzle
yourself by straying to the right or left, you will soon reach it, and
the bailiff, I dare say, will be proud to give you as many grapes as you
please. Good morning, happy days to you! I must mind my business.”

Seating herself between the tantalizing panniers, she was gone in an
instant, and I had the good luck to arrive straight at the wicket of a
rude, dry wall, winding up and down several bushy slopes in a wild
irregular manner. If the outside of this enclosure was rough and
unpromising, the interior presented a most cheering scene of rural
opulence. Droves of cows and goats milking; ovens, out of which huge
cakes of savoury bread had just been taken; ranges of beehives, and long
pillared sheds, entirely tapestried with purple and yellow muscadine
grapes, half candied, which were hung up to dry. A very good-natured,
classical-look-magister pecorum, followed by two well-disciplined,
though savage-eyed dogs, whom the least glance of their master prevented
from barking, gave me a hearty welcome, and with genuine hospitality not
only allowed me the free range of his domain, but set whatever it
produced in the greatest perfection before me. A contest took place
between two or three curly-haired, chubby-faced children, who should be
first to bring me walnuts fresh from the shell, bowls of milk, and
cream-cheeses, made after the best of fashions, that of the province of
Alemtejo.

I found myself so abstracted from the world in this retirement, so
perfectly transported back some centuries into primitive patriarchal
times, that I don’t recollect having ever enjoyed a few hours of more
delightful calm. “Here,” did I say to myself, “am I out of the way of
courts and ceremonies, and commonplace visitations, or salutations, or
gossip.” But, alas! how vain is all one thinks or says to one’s self
nineteen times out of twenty.

Whilst I was blessing my stars for this truce to the irksome bustle of
the life I had led ever since her Majesty’s arrival at Cintra, a loud
hallooing, the cracking of whips, and the tramping of horses, made me
start up from the snug corner in which I had established myself, and
dispelled all my soothing visions. Luis de Miranda, the colonel of the
Cascais regiment, an intimate confidant and favourite of the Prince of
Brazil, broke in upon me with a thousand (as he thought) obliging
reproaches, for having deserted Ramalhaô the very morning he had come on
purpose to dine with me, and to propose a ride after dinner to a
particular point of the Cintra mountains, which commands, he assured me,
such a prospect as I had not yet been blessed with in Portugal. “It is
not even now,” said he, “too late. I have brought your horses along
with me, whom I found fretting and stamping under a great tree at the
entrance of these foolish lanes. Come, get into your stirrups for God’s
sake, and I will answer for your thinking yourself well repaid by the
scene I shall disclose to you.”

As I was doomed to be disturbed and talked out of the elysium in which I
had been lapped for these last seven or eight hours, it was no matter in
what position, whether on foot or on horseback; I therefore complied,
and away we galloped. The horses were remarkably sure-footed, or else, I
think, we must have rolled down the precipices; for our road,

    “If road it could be call’d where road was none,”

led us by zigzags and short cuts over steeps and acclivities about three
or four leagues, till reaching a heathy desert, where a solitary cross
staring out of a few weather-beaten bushes, marked the highest point of
this wild eminence, one of the most expansive prospects of sea, and
plain, and distant mountains, I ever beheld, burst suddenly upon me,
rendered still more vast, aërial, and indefinite, by the visionary,
magic vapour of the evening sun.

After enjoying a moment or two the general effect, I began tracing out
the principal objects in the view, as far, that is to say, as they could
be traced, through the medium of the intense glowing haze. I followed
the course of the Tagus, from its entrance till it was lost in the low
estuaries beyond Lisbon. Cascais appeared with its long reaches of wall
and bomb-proof casemates like a Moorish town, and by the help of a glass
I distinguished a tall palm lifting itself above a cluster of white
buildings.

“Well,” said I, to my conductor, “this prospect has certainly charms
worth seeing; but not sufficient to make me forget that it is high time
to get home and refresh ourselves.” “Not so fast,” was the answer, “we
have still a great deal more to see.”

Having acquired, I can hardly tell why or wherefore, a sheep-like habit
of following wherever he led, I spurred after him down a rough
declivity, thick strewn with rolling stones and pebbles. At the bottom
of this descent, a dreary sun-burnt plain extended itself far and wide.
Whilst we dismounted and halted a few minutes to give our horses breath,
I could not help observing, that the view we were now contemplating but
ill-rewarded the risk of breaking our necks in riding down such rapid
declivities. He smiled, and asked me whether I saw nothing at all
interesting in the prospect. “Yes,” said I, “a sort of caravan I
perceive, about a quarter of a mile off, is by no means uninteresting;
that confused group of people in scarlet, with gleaming arms and
sumpter-mules, and those striped awnings stretched from ruined walls,
present exactly that kind of scenery I should expect to meet with in the
neighbourhood of Grand Cairo.” “Come then,” said he, “it is time to
clear up this mystery, and tell you for what purpose we have taken such
a long and fatiguing ride. The caravan which strikes you as being so
very picturesque, is composed of the attendants of the Prince of Brazil,
who has been passing the whole day upon a shooting-party, and is just at
this moment taking a little repose beneath yonder awnings. It was by his
desire I brought you here, for I have his commands to express his wishes
of having half-an-hour’s conversation with you, unobserved, and in
perfect incognito. Walk on as if you were collecting plants or taking
sketches, I will apprize his royal highness, and you will meet as it
were by chance, and without any form. No one shall be near enough to
hear a word you say to each other, for I will take my station at the
distance of at least one hundred paces, and keep off all spies and
intruders.”

I did as I was directed. A little door in the ruined wall, against which
an awning was fixed, opened, and there appeared a young man of rather a
prepossessing figure, fairer and ruddier than most of his countrymen,
who advanced towards me with a very pleasant engaging countenance, moved
his hat in a dignified graceful manner, and after insisting upon my
being covered, began addressing himself to me with great precipitation,
in a most fluent lingua-franca, half Italian and half Portuguese. This
jargon is very prevalent at the Ajuda[22] palace, where Italian singers
are in much higher request and fashion than persons of deeper tone and
intellect.

The first question his royal highness honoured me with was, whether I
had visited his cabinet of instruments. Upon my answering in the
affirmative, and that the apparatus appeared to me extremely perfect,
and in admirable order, he observed, “The arrangement is certainly good,
for one of my particular friends, a very learned man, has made it; but
notwithstanding the high price I have paid, your Ramsdens and Dollonds
have treated themselves more generously than me. I believe,” continued
his royal highness, “according to what the Duke d’Alafoens has
repeatedly assured me, I am conversing with a person who has no weak,
blind prejudices, in favour of his country, and who sees things as they
are, not as they have been, or as they ought to be. That commercial
greediness the English display in every transaction has cost us dear in
more than one particular.”

He then ran over the ground Pombal had so often trodden bare, both in
his state papers and in various publications which had been promulgated
during his administration, and I soon perceived of what school his royal
highness was a disciple.

“We deserve all this,” continued he, “and worse, for our tame
acquiescence in every measure your cabinet dictates; but no wonder,
oppressed and debased as we are, by ponderous, useless institutions.
When there are so many drones in a hive, it is in vain to look for
honey. Were you not surprised, were you not shocked, at finding us so
many centuries behind the rest of Europe?”

I bowed, and smiled. This spark of approbation induced, I believe, his
royal highness to blaze forth into a flaming encomium upon certain
reforms and purifications which were carrying on in Brabant, under the
auspices of his most sacred apostolic Majesty Joseph the Second. “I have
the happiness,” continued the Prince, “to correspond not unfrequently
with this enlightened sovereign. The Duke d’Alafoens, who has likewise
the advantage of communicating with him, never fails to give me the
detail of these salutary proceedings. When shall we have sufficient
manliness to imitate them!”

Though I bowed and smiled again, I could not resist taking the liberty
of observing that such very rapid and vigorous measures as those his
imperial Majesty had resorted to, were more to be admired than imitated;
that people who had been so long in darkness, if too suddenly broken in
upon by a stream of effulgence, were more likely to be blinded than
enlightened; and that blows given at random by persons whose eyes were
closed were dangerous, and might fall heaviest perhaps in directions
very opposite to those for which they were intended. This was rather
bold, and did not seem to please the novice in boldness.

After a short pause, which allowed him, at least, an opportunity of
taking breath, he looked steadily at me, and perceiving my countenance
arrayed in the best expression of admiration I could throw into it,
resumed the thread of his philosophical discourse, and even condescended
to detail some very singular and, as they struck me, most perilous
projects. Continuing to talk on with an increased impetus (like those
whose steps are accelerated by running down hill) he dropped some vague
hints of measures that filled me not only with surprise, but with a
sensation approaching to horror. I bowed, but I could not smile. My
imagination, which had caught the alarm at the extraordinary nature of
the topics he was discoursing upon, conjured up a train of appalling
images, and I asked myself more than once whether I was not under the
influence of a distempered dream.

Being too much engaged in listening to himself to notice my confusion,
he worked as hard as a pioneer in clearing away the rubbish of ages,
entered minutely and not unlearnedly into the ancient jurisprudence and
maxims of his country, its relations with foreign powers, and the rank
from whence it had fallen in modern times, to be attributed in a great
measure, he observed, to a blind and mistaken reliance upon the selfish
politics of our predominant island. Although he did not spare my
country, he certainly appeared not over partial to his own. He painted
its military defects and priest-ridden policy in vivid colours. In
short, this part of our discourse was a “_deploratio Lusitanicæ
Gentis_,” full as vehement as that which the celebrated Damien a Goes,
to show his fine Latin and fine humanity, poured forth some centuries
ago over the poor wretched Laplanders.

Not approving in any degree the tendency of all this display, I most
heartily prayed it might end. Above an hour had passed since it began,
and flattered as I was by the protraction of so condescending a
conference, I could not help thinking that these fountains of honour are
fountains of talk and not of mercy; they flow over, if once set a going,
without pity or moderation. Persons in supreme stations, whom no one
ventures to contradict, run on at a furious rate. You frequently flatter
yourself they are exhausted; but you flatter yourself in vain. Sometimes
indeed, by way of variety, they contradict themselves, and then the
debate is carried on between self and self, to the desperation of their
subject auditors, who, without being guilty of a word in reply, are
involved in the same penalty us the most captious disputant. This was my
case. I scarcely uttered a syllable after my first unsuccessful essay;
but thousands of words were nevertheless lavished upon me, and
innumerable questions proposed and answered by the questioner with equal
rapidity.

In return for the honour of being admitted to this monological dialogue,
I kept bowing and nodding; and towards the close of the conference,
contrived to smile again pretty decently. His royal highness, I learned
afterwards, was satisfied with my looks and gestures, and even bestowed
a brevet upon me of a great deal more erudition than I possessed or
pretended to.

The sun set, the dews fell, the Prince retired, Louis de Miranda
followed him, and I remounted my horse with an indigestion of sounding
phrases, and the most confirmed belief that “_the church was in
danger_.”

Tired and exhausted, I threw myself on my sofa the moment I reached
Ramalhaô; but the agitation of my spirits would not allow me any repose.
I swallowed some tea with avidity, and driving to the palace, evocated
the archbishop confessor, who had been locked up above half-an-hour in
his interior cabinet. To him I related all that had passed at this
unsought, unexpected interview. The consequences in time developed
themselves.



LETTER XXXII.

     Convent of Boa Morte.--Emaciated priests.--Austerity of the
     Order.--Contrite personages.--A _nouveau riche_.--His house.--Walk
     on the veranda of the palace at Belem.--Train of attendants at
     dinner.--Portuguese gluttony.--Black dose of legendary
     superstition.--Terrible denunciations.--A dreary evening.


Nov. 9th, 1787.

M---- and his principal almoner, a renowned missionary, and one of the
most eloquent preachers in her Majesty’s dominions, were at my door by
ten, waiting to take me with them to the convent of Boa Morte. This is a
true Golgotha, a place of many skulls, for its inhabitants, though they
live, move, and have a sort of being, are little better than skeletons.
The priest who officiated appeared so emaciated and cadaverous, that I
could hardly have supposed he would have had strength sufficient to
elevate the chalice. It did not, however, fall from his hands, and
having finished his mass, a second phantom tottered forth and began
another. From the pictures and images of more than ordinary ghastliness
which cover the chapels and cloisters, and from the deep contrition
apparent in the tears, gestures, and ejaculations of the faithful who
resort to them, I fancy no convent in Lisbon can be compared with this
for austerity and devotion.

M---- shook all over with piety, and so did his companion, whose knees
are become horny with frequent kneelings, and who, if one is to believe
Verdeil, will end his days in a hermitage, or go mad, or perhaps both.
He pretends, too, that it is this grey-beard that has added new fuel to
the flame of M----’s devotion, and that by mutually encouraging each
other, they will soon produce fruits worthy of Bedlam, if not of
Paradise. To be sure, this father may boast a conspicuously devout turn,
and a most resolute manner of thumping himself; but he must not be too
vain. In Lisbon there are at least fifty or sixty thousand good souls,
who, without having travelled so far, thump full as sonorously as he.
This morning, at Boa Morte, one shrivelled sinner remained the whole
time the masses lasted with outstretched arms, in the shape and with all
the inflexible stiffness of an old-fashioned branched candlestick.
Another contrite personage was so affected at the moment of
consecration, that he flattened his nose on the pavement, and licked the
dirt and dust with which it was thickly encrusted.

I must confess that, notwithstanding this very superior display of
sanctity, I was not sorry to escape from the dingy cloisters of the
convent, and breathe the pure air, and look up at the blue exhilarating
sky. The weather being delightful, we drove to several distant parts of
the town, to which I was yet a stranger. Returning back by the Bairro
Alto, we looked into a new house, just finished building at an enormous
expense, by Joaô Ferreira, who, from an humble retailer of leather, has
risen, by the archbishop’s favour, to the possession of some of the most
lucrative contracts in Portugal. Uglier-shaped apartments than those the
poor shoe-man had contrived for himself I never beheld. The hangings are
of satin of the deepest blue, and the fiercest and most sulphureous
yellow. Every ceiling is daubed over with allegorical paintings, most
indifferently executed, and loaded with gilt ornaments, in the style of
those splendid sign-posts which some years past were the glory of
High-Holborn and St. Giles’s.

We were soon tired of all this finery, and as it was growing late, made
the best of our way to Belem. Whilst M---- was writing letters, I walked
out with Don Pedro on the verandas of the palace, which are washed by
the Tagus, and flanked with turrets. The views are enchanting, and the
day being warm and serene, I enjoyed them in all their beauty. Several
large vessels passed by as we were leaning over the balustrades, and
almost touched us with their streamers. Even frigates and ships of the
first rate approach within a quarter of a mile of the palace.

There was a greater crowd of attendants than usual round our table at
dinner to-day, and the huge massy dishes were brought up by a long train
of gentlemen and chaplains, several of them decorated with the orders of
Avis and Christ. This attendance had quite a feudal air, and transported
the imagination to the days of chivalry, when great chieftains were
waited upon like kings, by noble vassals.

The Portuguese had need have the stomachs of ostriches to digest the
loads of savoury viands with which they cram themselves. Their
vegetables, their rice, their poultry, are all stewed in the essence of
ham, and so strongly seasoned with pepper and spices, that a spoonful of
peas, or a quarter of an onion, is sufficient to set one’s mouth in a
flame. With such a diet, and the continual swallowing of sweetmeats, I
am not surprised at their complaining so often of head-aches and
vapours.

Several of the old Marquis of M----’s confidants and buffoons crept
forth to have a peep at the stranger, and hear the famous missionary
descant upon martyrdom and miracles. The scenery of Boa Morte being
fresh in his thoughts, his descriptions were gloomy and appalling: Don
Pedro, his sisters, and his cousin, the young Conde d’Atalaya,[23]
gathered round him with all the trembling eagerness of children who
hunger and thirst after hobgoblin stories. You may be sure he sent them
not empty away. A blacker dose of legendary superstition was never
administered. The Marchioness seemed to swallow these terrific
narrations with nearly as much avidity as her children, and the old
Abade, dropping his chin in a woful manner, produced an enormous rosary,
and kept thumbing his beads and mumbling orisons.

M---- had luckily been summoned to the palace by a special mandate from
his royal mistress. Had he been of the party, I fear Verdeil’s prophecy
would have been accomplished, for never did mortal hold forth with so
much scaring energy as this enthusiastic preacher. The most terrible
denunciations of divine wrath which ever were thundered forth by ancient
or modern writers of sermons and homilies recurred to his memory, and he
dealt them about him with a vengeance. The last half hour of the
discourse we were all in total darkness,--nobody had thought of calling
for lights: the children were huddled together, scarce venturing to move
or breathe. It was a most singular scene.

Full of the ghastly images the good father had conjured up in my
imagination, I returned home alone in my carriage, shivering and
shuddering. My friends were out, and nothing could be more dreary than
the appearance of my fireless apartments.



LETTER XXXIII.

     Rehearsal of Seguidillas.--Evening scene.--Crowds of
     beggars.--Royal charity misplaced.--Mendicant flattery.--Frightful
     countenances.--Performance at the Salitri theatre.--Countess of
     Pombeiro and her dwarf negresses.--A strange ballet.--Return to the
     Palace.--Supper at the Camareira Mor’s.--Filial affection.--Last
     interview with the Archbishop.--Fatal tide of events.--Heart-felt
     regret on leaving Portugal.


Sunday, November 25th, 1787.

What a morning for the 25th of November! The sun shining most
brilliantly, insects fluttering about, and flowers expanding--the late
rains having called forth a second spring, and tinted the hills round
Almada, on the opposite shore of the Tagus, with a lively green.

I breakfasted alone, Verdeil being gone to St. Roch’s, to see the
ceremony of publishing the bull of the Crusade, which allows good
Christians to eat eggs and butter during Lent, upon paying his holiness
a few shillings. I stayed at home, hearing a rehearsal of Seguidillas,
in preparation for a new intermez at the Salitri theatre, till the hour
of mass was over, then getting into the Portuguese chaise, drove
headlong to the palace in the Placa do Commercio, and hastened to the
Marquis of M----’s apartments. All his family were assembled to dine
with him.

Had it not been for the thoughts of my approaching departure, I should
have felt more comfort and happiness than has fallen to my lot for a
long interval. M----, whose attendance on the Queen may be too justly
termed a state of downright slavery, had hardly taken his place at
table, before he was called away. The Marchioness, Donna Henriquetta,
and her little sister, soon retreated to the Camareira-Mor’s apartments,
and I was left alone with Pedro and Duarte. They seized fast hold, each
of a hand, and running like greyhounds through long corridors, took me
to a balcony which commands one of the greatest thoroughfares in Lisbon.

The evening was delightful, and vast crowds of people moving about, of
all degrees and nations, old and young, active and crippled, monks and
officers. Shoals of beggars kept pouring in from every quarter to take
their stands at the gates of the palace and watch the Queen’s going out;
for her Majesty is a most indulgent mother to these sturdy sons of
idleness, and scarcely ever steps into her carriage without distributing
considerable alms amongst them. By this misplaced charity, hundreds of
stout fellows are taught the management of a crutch instead of a musket,
and the art of manufacturing sores, ulcers, and scabby pates, in the
most loathsome perfection. Duarte, who is all life and gaiety, vaulted
upon the railing of the balcony, and hung for a moment or two suspended
in a manner that would have frightened mothers and nurses into
convulsions. The beggars, who had nothing to do till her Majesty should
be forthcoming, seemed to be vastly entertained with these feats of
agility.

They soon spied me out, and two brawny lubbers, whom an unfortunate
combination of smallpox and king’s-evil had deprived of eye-sight,
informed, no doubt, by their comrades of what was going forward, began a
curious dialogue with voices still deeper and harsher than those of the
holy crows:--“Heaven prosper their noble excellencies, Don Duarte Manoel
and Don Pedro, and all the Marialvas--sweet dear youths, long may they
be blessed with the use of their eyes and of all their limbs! Is that
the charitable Englishman in their sweet company?”--“Yes, my comrade,”
answered the second blind.--“What!” said the first, “that generous
favourite of the most glorious Lord St. Anthony? (O gloriosissimo Senhor
Sant-Antonio!)”--“Yes, my comrade.”--“O that I had but my precious eyes,
that I might enjoy the sight of his countenance!” exclaimed both
together.

By the time the duet was thus far advanced, the halt, the maimed, and
the scabby, having tied some greasy nightcaps to the end of long poles,
poked them up through the very railing, bawling and roaring out charity,
“charity for the sake of the holy one of Lisbon.” Never was I looked up
to by a more distorted or frightful collection of countenances. I made
haste to throw down a plentiful shower of small copper money, or else
Duarte would have twitched away both poles and nightcaps, a frolic by no
means to be encouraged, as it might have marred our fame for the
readiest and most polite attention to every demand in the name of St.
Anthony.

Just as the orators were receiving their portion of pence and farthings,
a cry of “There’s the Queen, there’s the Princess!” carried the whole
hideous crowd away to another scene of action, and left me at full
liberty to be amused in my turn with the squirrel-like gambols of my
lively companion; he is really a fine enterprising boy, bold, alert, and
sprightly; quite different from most of his illustrious young relations.

Don Pedro by no means approved my English partiality to such active
feats, and after scolding his cousin for skipping about in so hazardous
a style, entreated me to take them to the Salitri theatre, where a box
had been prepared for us by his father’s orders. Upon the whole, I was
better entertained than I expected, though the performance lasted above
four hours and a half, from seven to near twelve. It consisted of a
ranting prose tragedy, in three acts, called Sesostris, two ballets, a
pastoral, and a farce. The decorations were not amiss, and the dresses
showy. A shambling, blear-eyed boy, bundled out in weeds of the deepest
sable, squeaked and bellowed alternately the part of a widowed
princess. Another hob-e-di-hoy, tottering on high-heeled shoes,
represented her Egyptian majesty, and warbled two airs with all the
nauseous sweetness of a fluted falsetto. Though I could have boxed his
ears for surfeiting mine so filthily, the audience were of a very
different opinion, and were quite enthusiastic in their applause.

In the stage-box I observed the mincing Countess of Pombeiro, whose
light hair and waxen complexion was finely contrasted by the ebon hue of
two little negro attendants perched on each side of her. It is the high
tone at present in this court to be surrounded by African implings, the
more hideous, the more prized, and to bedizen them in the most expensive
manner. The Queen has set the example, and the royal family vie with
each other in spoiling and caressing Donna Rosa, her Majesty’s
black-skinned, blubber-lipped, flat-nosed favourite.

One of the ballets was admirably got up; upon the rising of the curtain,
a strange cabalistic apartment is discovered, where an astrologer
appears very busy at a table covered with spheres and astrolabes,
arranging certain mysterious images, and pinking their eyes with a
gigantic pair of black compasses. A sort of Pierrot announces some
inquisitive travellers, who enter with many bows and scrapings. One of
them, the chief of the party, an old dapper beau in pink and silver,
reminded me very much of the Duke d’Alafoens, and sidled along and
tossed his cane about, and seemed to ask questions without waiting for
answers, with as good a grace as that janty general. The astrologer,
after explaining the wonders of his apartment with many pantomimical
contortions, invites his company to follow him, and the scene changes to
a long gallery, illuminated with a profusion of lights in gilt branches.
The perspective ends in a flight of steps, upon each of which stands a
row of figures, pantaloons, harlequins, sultans, sultanas, Indian
chiefs, devils, and savages, to all appearance motionless. Pierrot
brings in a machine like a hand-organ, and his master begins to grind,
the music accompanying. At the first chord, down drop the arms of all
the figures; at the second, each rank descends a step, and so on, till
gaining the level of the stage, and the astrologer grinding faster and
faster, the supposed clock-work-assembly begin a general dance.

Their ballet ended, the same accords are repeated, and all hop up in the
same stiff manner they hopped down. The travellers, highly pleased with
the show, depart; Pierrot, who longs to be grinding, persuades his
master to take a walk, and leave him in possession of the gallery. He
consents; but enjoins the gaping oaf upon no account to meddle with the
machine, or set the figures in motion. Vain are his directions! no
sooner has he turned his back than Pierrot goes to work with all his
strength; the figures fall a shaking as if on the point of disjoining
themselves; creak, crack, grinds the machine with horrid harshness;
legs, arms, and noddles are thrown into convulsions, three steps are
jumped at once. Pierrot, frightened out of his senses at the goggle-eyed
crowd advancing upon him, clings close to the machine and gives the
handle no respite. The music, too, degenerates into the most jarring,
screaking sounds, and the figures knocking against each other, and
whirling round and round in utter confusion, fall flat upon the stage.
Pierrot runs from group to group in rueful despair, tries in vain to
reanimate them, and at length losing all patience, throws one over the
other, and heaps sultanas upon savages, and shepherds upon devilkins.
Most of these personages being represented by boys of twelve or thirteen
were easily wielded. After Pierrot has finished tossing and tumbling, he
drops down exhausted and lies as dead as his neighbours, hoping to
escape unnoticed amongst them. But this subterfuge avails him not; in
comes the astrologer armed with his compasses; back he starts at sight
of the confounded jumble. Pierrot pays for it all, is soon drawn forth
from his lurking-place, and the astrologer grinding in a moderate and
scientific manner, the figures lift themselves up, and returning all in
_status quo_, the ballet finishes.

Shall I confess that this nonsense amused me pretty nearly as much as it
did my companions, whose raptures were only exceeded by those of madame
de Pombeiro’s implings. They, sweet, sooty innocents, kept gibbering and
pointing at the man with the black compasses in a manner so completely
African and ludicrous, that I thought their contortions the best part
of the entertainment.

The play ended, we hastened back to the palace, and traversing a number
of dark vestibules and guard-chambers, (all of a snore with jaded
equerries,) were almost blinded with a blaze of light from the room in
which supper was served up. There we found in addition to all the
Marialvas, the old marquis only excepted, the Camareira-mor, and five or
six other hags of supreme quality, feeding like cormorants upon a
variety of high-coloured and high-seasoned dishes. I suppose the keen
air from the Tagus, which blows right into the palace-windows, operates
as a powerful whet, for I never beheld eaters or eateresses, no not even
our old acquaintance madame la Présidente at Paris, lay about them with
greater intrepidity. To be sure, it was a splendid repast, quite a
banquet. We had manjar branco and manjar real, and among other good
things a certain preparation of rice and chicken, which suited me
exactly, and no wonder, for this excellent mess had been just tossed up
by Donna Isabel de Castro with her own illustrious hands, in a nice
little kitchen adjoining the queen’s apartment, in which all the
utensils are of solid silver.

The number of lights upon the table, and of attendants and pages in rich
uniforms around it, was prodigious; but what interested me far more than
all this parade, was the sportive good-humour and frankness of the
company. How it happened that the presence of a stranger failed to
inspire any reserve, is one of those odd circumstances I can hardly
account for; especially as the higher orders of the Portuguese are the
farthest removed of all persons from admitting any but their nearest
relations to these family parties; but so it was, and I felt both
flattered and gratified at being permitted to witness the ease and
hilarity which prevailed.

The dutiful, affectionate attention of the younger part of the company
to their parents was truly amiable; nor do I believe that, at this day
in any other realm in Europe, the sacred precept of honouring your
father and your mother is so cordially observed as in Portugal. Happy
if, in our intercourse with that nation, we had profited in that respect
by their example; the peace of so many of our noblest families would
not have been disturbed by the lowest connexions, nor their best blood
contaminated by matches of the most immoral, degrading tendency. We
should not have seen one year a performer acting the part of lady this
or lady t’other upon the stage, and the next in the drawing-room; nor,
upon entering some of our principal houses, have been tempted to cry
out--“Bless me! that lovely countenance is the same I recollect adoring
by moonlight on the fine broad flagstones of Bond Street or Portland
Place!”[24]

It was now after two in the morning, and I must own, notwithstanding the
good cheer of which I had participated, and the kind entertainment I had
received, I began to feel a little tired. The children were in such
spirits, so full of frolic, and her sublimity, the Camareira-mor, so
unusually tolerant and condescending, that there was no knowing when
the party would break up. Taking, therefore, my leave in due form, I
made my retreat escorted by half-a-dozen torch-bearers.

Just as I had gotten about half-way on my journey through what appeared
to me interminable passages, I was arrested in my progress by a pair of
dominicans, father Rocha, and his scarecrow satellite frè Josè do
Rosario. A person less accustomed than I had lately been to such
apparitions would have been startled; especially, too, if he had found
himself like me between the most formidable living pillars of the holy
inquisition.

“What are you doing here so very late,” I could not help exclaiming, “my
reverend fathers? What’s the matter?”

“The matter is,” answered Rocha, with a voice of terrific hoarseness,
“that we have caught cold waiting for you in these confounded corridors.
The archbishop, above half-an-hour ago, commanded us to bring you to him
dead or alive; but a rascally jackanapes in waiting upon her excellency
the Camareira-mor would not let us in to deliver our message, so we
have been airing ourselves hitherto to no purpose.”

“Do you know,” said Rocha, taking me into a little room where a lamp was
still burning, “that affairs do not go on so smoothly as they ought? The
archbishop seems to have lost both time and temper since he has been
pressed into the cabinet; and, as for the Prince of Brazil and his
consort, God forgive me for wishing their advisers and all their
intrigues in the lowest abyss of perdition. How can you be scheming a
journey to Madrid at this season? The floods are out, and the robbers
also, and I tell you what, as the archbishop says twenty times a day, if
you do go you deserve to be drowned and murdered.”

“The die is cast,” I replied, “and I must take my chance; but really I
wish you would have the goodness to bid the archbishop a very good night
in my name, and let me put off asking his benediction till to-morrow,
for I am quite jaded.”

“Jaded or not,” answered the monk, “you must come with me; the wind is
up in the archbishop’s brain just at this moment, and by the least
contradiction more would become a hurricane.”

Finding resistance vain, I suffered myself to be conducted through two
or three open courts, very refreshing at this hour you may suppose, and
up a little staircase into the archbishop’s interior cabinet. All was
still as death--no lay-brother bustling about--no sound audible but a
low breathing, which now and then swelled into a half suppressed groan,
from the agitated prelate, whom we found knee-deep in papers, immersed
in thought.

“So,” said he, “there you are at last. What have you been doing all this
while? Who but a brute of an Englishman would have kept me waiting. Ay,
ay, you told me how it would be, and you are right. They plague my soul
out. We have twenty rascals pulling as many ways. Your people too are
not what they used to be, though Mello would make us believe to the
contrary. One thing I know for certain, some infernal mischief is
afloat, and unless God’s grace is speedily manifested, I see no end to
confusion, and wish myself anywhere but where I am. These
smooth-tongued, Frenchified, Italian, Voltaireists and encyclopedians
have poisoned all sound doctrine. Ay,” continued he, rising up, with an
expression of indignation and anger I never saw before on his
countenance, “somebody’s ears[25] are poisoned whom I could name.... But
where is the use of talking to you? You are determined to leave us, be
it so. God’s providence is above all. He knows what is best for you, and
for me, and for these kingdoms. There is your passport, countersigned by
your friend Mello; and here is a letter for Lorenzana, and another for
his catholic majesty’s confessor, in which I tell him what an amazing
fool you are, and unless you continue one without any remission, we
shall soon have you back again. Tell Marialva,” he added, addressing
himself to Rocha (for the other father had not been admitted), “tell
Marialva and all his friends that I have dried up my tongue almost more
times than one, in attempting to argue a thousand silly whimsies and
crotchets out of his harum-scarum English brain; but come,” said he,
extending his arms, “I bear no malice, I pity, I do not condemn. Let me
give you an embrace, and pray God it may not be the last you will
receive from me.”

It was, alas! the last I ever received from him, poor, honest-hearted,
kind old man! A sort of melancholy foreboding which seemed to pervade
all he said in this interview was too soon realized. The fatal tide of
events flowing on as it were with redoubled, tremendous velocity, swept
away in the course of a few short months from this period the Prince of
Brazil, the lovely and amiable infanta his sister, her husband Don
Gabriel of Spain, and the good old King Charles the Third. Not long
after, the archbishop-confessor himself was called from the plenitude of
power and the enjoyment of unrivalled influence to the presence of that
Being in whose sight “no man living shall be justified;” but as in many
trying and peculiar instances he had shown the tenderest mercy, it may
tremblingly be hoped that mercy has been shown to him. Notwithstanding
the bluntness of his manner, the kindness of his heart, so apparent in
his good-humoured, benevolent eye, found its way, almost imperceptibly
to himself, to the hearts of others, and tempered the despotic roughness
he sometimes assumed both in voice and gesture.

I still seem to behold the last, earnest, solemn look he gave me when,
the door closing, he retired to the cares of state, and I with my escort
of torch-bearers and dominicans hastened forth to breathe the open air,
of which I stood greatly in need. Many things I had heard, and many
others I conjectured, above all, the reluctance I felt at the bottom of
my heart to leave a country in which I had received such uncommon marks
of friendship, bore heavily upon me. When I got home, scarcely two hours
before daybreak, and tried to compose myself to sleep, I was neither
refreshed nor recruited, but experienced the agitation of feverish and
broken slumbers.



LETTER XXXIV.

     Dead mass at the church of Martyrs.--Awful music by Perez and
     Jomelli.--Marialva’s affecting address.--My sorrow and anxiety.


26th Nov. 1787.

I went to the church of the Martyrs to hear the matins of Perez and the
dead mass of Jomelli performed by all the principal musicians of the
royal chapel for the repose of the souls of their deceased predecessors.
Such august, such affecting music I never heard, and perhaps may never
hear again; for the flame of devout enthusiasm burns dim in almost every
part of Europe, and threatens total extinction in a very few years. As
yet it glows at Lisbon, and produced this day the most striking musical
effect.

Every individual present seemed penetrated with the spirit of those
awful words which Perez and Jomelli have set with tremendous sublimity.
Not only the music, but the serious demeanour of the performers, of the
officiating priests, and indeed of the whole congregation, was
calculated to impress a solemn, pious terror of the world beyond the
grave. The splendid decoration of the church was changed into mourning,
the tribunes hung with black, and a veil of gold and purple thrown over
the high altar. In the midst of the choir stood a catafalque surrounded
with tapers in lofty candelabra, a row of priests motionless on each
side. There was an awful silence for several minutes, and then began the
solemn service of the dead. The singers turned pale as they sang, “Timor
mortis me conturbat.”

After the requiem, the high mass of Jomelli, in commemoration of the
deceased, was performed; that famous composition which begins with a
movement imitative of the tolling of bells,

    “Swinging slow with sullen roar.”

These deep, majestic sounds, mingled with others like the cries for
mercy of unhappy beings, around whom the shadows of death and the pains
of hell were gathering, shook every nerve in my frame, and called up in
my recollection so many affecting images, that I could not refrain from
tears.

I scarcely knew how I was conveyed to the palace, where Marialva
expected my coming with the utmost impatience. Our conversation took a
most serious turn. He entreated me not to forget Portugal, to meditate
upon the awful service I had been hearing, and to remember he should not
die in peace unless I was present to close his eyes.

In the actual tone of my mind I was doubly touched by this melancholy,
affectionate address. It seemed to cut through my soul, and I execrated
Verdeil and all those who had been instrumental in persuading me to
abandon such a friend. The grand prior wept bitterly at seeing my
agitation. Marialva went to the queen, and the grand prior home with me.
We dined alone; my heart was full of heaviness, and I could not eat. At
night we returned to the palace, and there all my sorrow and anxiety was
renewed.



SPAIN.



LETTER I.

     Embark on the Tagus.--Aldea Gallega.--A poetical postmaster.--The
     church.--Leave Aldea Gallega.--Scenery on the road.--Palace built
     by John the Fifth.--Ruins at Montemor.--Reach Arroyolos.


Wednesday, Nov. 28th, 1787.

The winds are reposing themselves, and the surface of the Tagus has all
the smoothness of a mirror. The clouds are dispersing, for it rained
heavily in the night, and the sun tinging the distant mountains of
Palmella. Charming weather for crossing to Aldea Gallega, that self-same
village in whose praises Baretti launches out with so much luxuriance.
Horne and his nephew accompanied me to the stairs of Pampulha, where the
old marquis’s scalera was waiting for me, with eight-and-twenty rowers
in their bright scarlet accoutrements.

Beggars innumerable, blind, dumb, and scabby, followed me almost into
the water. No beggars equal those of Portugal for strength of lungs,
luxuriance of sores, profusion of vermin, variety and arrangement of
tatters, and dauntless perseverance. Several clocks were striking one
when we pushed off from the shore, and in a few minutes less than two
hours we found ourselves at Aldea Gallega, four leagues from Lisbon.
Vast numbers of boats and skiffs passed us in the course of our
navigation, which I should have thought highly agreeable in other
circumstances; but I felt oppressed and melancholy; the thoughts of my
separation from the Marialvas bearing heavily on my mind. Nor could the
grand prospects of the river, and its shores, crowded with convents,
towers, and palaces, remove this dead cold weight a single instant.

The sun having sunk into watery clouds, the expanse of the Tagus wore a
dismal, leaden-coloured aspect. Lisbon was cast into shade, and the huge
mass of the convent of San Vicente, crowning an eminence, looked dark
and solemn. The low shores of Aldea Gallega are pleasant and woody;
many varieties of the tulip, the iris, and other bulbous roots, already
springing up under the protection of spreading pines.

Instead of going to a swinish, stinking estellagem, my courier, Martinho
de mello’s prime favourite, and the one he employs upon the most
confidential negociations, conducted me to the postmaster’s; a neat,
snug habitation, where I found very tolerable accommodations, and dined
in the midst of a vapour of burnt lavender, that was near depriving us
of all appetite.

Before I sat down to table, I wrote to M----, and sent my letter by the
return of the scalera. It was not without difficulty I wrote then, or
write at present, for my kind host, the postmaster, has not only the
same age, but equal glibness of tongue as the abade. They were
cotemporary at Coimbra, and their tongues have kept pace with each other
these eighty years. The postmaster is blessed with a most tenacious
memory, and having been a mighty reader of operas, serenatas, sonnets,
and romances, seemed to sweat verses at every pore. For three hours he
gave neither himself nor us any respite, but spouted whole volleys of
Metastasio, till he was black in the face. Having washed down the heroic
sentiments of Megacle, Artaserse, and Demetrio with a dish of tea, he
fell to quoting Spanish and Latin authors, Ovid, Seneca, Lopez de Vega,
Calderon, with the same volubility.

As millers sleep sound to the click of their mill, so I, at the end of
the two hours’ gabbling, was perfectly well-seasoned, and let him run on
with the most resigned composure, writing and reading as unconcernedly
as if in a convent of Carthusians.


Thursday, November 29th.

There was a continual racket in the house and about the street-door all
night. At four o’clock the baggage-carts set forth, with a tremendous
jingling of bells. The morning was so soft and vernal, that we drank our
chocolate on the veranda, which commands a wild rural view of shrubby
fields and scattered pines, terminated by a long range of blue hills,
most picturesquely varied in form, if not in colour.

After breakfast I went to the church, which Colmenar pretends is
magnificently gilt and ornamented; but which, in fact, can boast no
other decoration than a few shabby altars, displaying the images of
Nossa Senhora, and the patron saint, in tinselled garments of faded
taffeta. I knelt on a mouldy pavement, and felt a chill wind issuing
from between the crevices of loose grave-stones, that returned a hollow
sound when I rose up and walked over them. A priest, who was saying
mass, officiated with uncommon slowness and solemnity. It was hardly
light in the recesses of the chapels.

Soon after eight o’clock we left Aldea Gallega, and ploughed through
deep furrows of sand at the sober rate of two miles and a half in an
hour. On both sides of the heavy road the eye ranges uninterrupted,
except by the stems of starveling pines, through a boundless extent of
barren country, overgrown with stunted ilex and gum-cistus. The same
scenery lasted without any variation full five leagues, to the venta de
Pegoens, where I am now writing, in a long dismal room, with plastered
walls, a damp brick-floor, and cracked window-shutters. A pack of
half-famished dogs are leaping around me, their eyes ready to start out
of their sockets and their ribs out of their skin.

After dining upon the provisions we brought with us, of which the
yelping generation enjoyed no inconsiderable share, we proceeded through
sandy wilds diversified alone by pines. Not a single habitation
occurred, till by a glimmering dubious starlight, for it was now
half-past seven, we discovered the extensive front of a palace, built in
the year 1729, by John the fifth, for the accommodation of the infanta
of Spain, who married his son, the late king D. Josè. Here we were to
lodge, and I was rather surprised, upon entering a long suite of
well-proportioned apartments, to find doors and windows still capable of
being shut and opened, large chimneys guiltless of smoking out of their
right channel, and painted ceilings without cracks or crevices.

A young priest, neither deficient in manners nor erudition, the keeper
of this solitary palace, did his utmost to make our stay in it
agreeable. By his attention, we had some chairs and tables placed by a
blazing fire, which I worshipped with all the fervour of an ancient
Persian. I had need of this consolation, being much disordered by the
tiresome dragging of our heavy coach through heaps of sand, and
depressed with feverish shiverings.


Friday, November 30th.

It was a long while last night before I composed myself to sleep, and
being called at the first dawn, I rose, if possible, more indisposed
than when I lay down; I could scarcely swallow any refreshment, and kept
walking disconsolately through the vast range of naked apartments, till
the rays of the rising sun entered the windows. The horizon glowed with
ruddy clouds. The vast desert levels, discovered from the balconies of
the palace, gleamed with dewy verdure. I hastened out to breathe the
fresh morning air, impregnated with the perfume of a thousand aromatic
shrubs and opening flowers. I could not believe it was the last day of
November, but fancied I had slept away the winter, and was just awakened
in the month of May.

To enjoy these fragrant breezes in full liberty, I left our carriage to
drag along as slowly as the mules pleased, and the muleteers to smoke
their cigarros as deliberately as they thought proper; and mounting my
horse, rode the best part of the way to Montemor; which is built on the
acclivity of a mountain, and surrounded on every side by groves of
olives. The whole face of the country is covered by the same
vegetation, and, of course, presents no very cheerful appearance.

About a mile from Montemor we crossed a clear river, whose banks are
thick-set with poplars, and a light, airy species of broom, intermixed
with indian-fig, and laurustine in full blossom. The bees were swarming
amongst the flowers, and filling the air with their hum.

Whilst our dinner was preparing we climbed up the green slopes of a
lofty hill, to some ruins on its summit; and passing under a narrow arch
discovered a broad flight of steps, which lead to a very ancient church
of gothic uncouth architecture: the pavement almost entirely composed of
sepulchral slabs and brasses. As we walked on a platform before the
entrance, the sun shone so fiercely that we were glad to descend the
eminence on its shadiest side, and take refuge in a cavern-like
apartment of the estallagem, very damp and dingy; but in which, however,
an excellent dinner awaited our arrival.

We set out at two in a blaze of sunshine, so cheerful and reviving, that
I got once more on horseback, and never dismounted till I reached
Arroyolos. Just as we came in sight of this ugly old town, which, like
Montemor, crowns the summit of a rocky eminence, it fell totally dark;
but the postmaster coming forth with torches, lighted us through several
winding alleys to his house. I found some pleasant apartments amply
furnished, and richly carpeted, and had the comfort of settling myself
by a crackling fire, writing to the whole circle of the Marialvas, and
drinking tea without being attacked by quotations of Virgil and
Metastasio.



LETTER II.

     A wild tract of forest-land.--Arrival at Estremoz.--A fair.--An
     outrageous sermon.--Boundless wastes of gum-cistus.--Elvas.--Our
     reception there.--My visiters.


Saturday, December 1st, 1787.

Hitherto I have had no reason to complain of my accommodations in
travelling through Portugal. A mandate from the governor procured me
milk this morning for my breakfast, much against the will of the
proprietor, who had a great inclination to keep all to himself. The idea
of its being squeezed out by force, persuaded me that it had a very sour
taste, and I hardly touched it.

I laid in a stock of carpets for my journey, of strange grotesque
patterns and glaring colours, the produce of a manufactory in this town,
which employs about three hundred persons. Methinks I begin to write as
dully as Major W. Dalrymple, whose dry journal of travels through a
part of Spain I had the misfortune of reading in the coach this morning,
as we jogged and jolted along the dreary road between Arroyolos and
Venta do Duque.

We passed a wild tract of forest-land, and saw numerous herds of swine
luxuriously scratching themselves against the rugged bark of cork-trees,
and routing up the moss at their roots in search of acorns. Venta do
Duque is a sty right worthy of being the capital of hoggish dominions.
It can boast, however, of a chimney, which, giving us the opportunity of
making a fire, rendered our stay in it less intolerable.

The evening turned out cloudy and cold. Before we arrived at Estremoz,
another city on a hill, better and farther seen than it merits, it began
to rain with a vengeance. I hear it splashing and driving this moment in
the puddles which lie in the vast, forlorn market-place, at one end of
which our posada is situated. For Portugal, this posada is by no means
indifferent; the walls and ceilings have been neatly whitewashed, and
here are chairs and tables. My carpets are of essential service in
protecting my feet from the damp brick-floors. I have spread them all
round my bed, and they make a flaming exotic appearance.


Sunday, December 2nd.

When I opened my eyes about seven in the morning, the sky was still
dismal and lowering; and a crowd of human figures, enveloped in dark
capotes, were just issuing from several dens and lurking-places on each
side the entrance of the posada. A fair, which was held to-day, had
drawn them together, and they were lamenting in chorus the rainy
weather, which prevented the display of their rural finery. Most of
these good people had passed the night in the stables of the posada. As
I came down stairs, I saw several of their companions of both sexes
lying about like the killed and wounded on a field of battle; or, to use
a less fatal comparison, like the dead-drunk during a contested election
in England.

From the windows of the posada I looked down on a vast opening a
thousand feet in breadth, surrounded by irregular buildings; amongst
which I could not discover any of those handsome edifices adorned with
marble columns, some travelling scribblers mention in terms of the
highest commendation. The marble tower, too, they describe, built by Don
Deniz, has totally lost its polish, if true it is it ever had any.

Hard by the posada is a little chapel, to which I repaired as soon as I
had breakfasted, and heard an outrageous sermon preached by a
grey-headed, fiery-eyed capuchin, to a troop of blubbering females.

As it did not positively rain, but only drizzled, after the fashion of
my own dear native country, I rode part of the way to Elvas, and
traversed boundless wastes of gum-cistus, whose dark-green casts a
melancholy shade over the face of the country. A mile or two from Elvas,
the scene changes to a forest of olives, with fountains by the wayside,
and avenues of poplars, which were not yet deprived of their foliage.
Above their summits tower the arches of an aqueduct, supported by strong
buttresses, and presenting, when seen in perspective, an appearance, in
some points of view, not unlike that of a ruined gothic cathedral. The
ramparts of Elvas are laid out and planted much in the style of our
English gardens, and form very delightful walks.

Upon entering the town, which seems populous and thriving, we were
conducted to a very clean neat house, prepared for our reception by
order of the governor, Monsieur de Vallarè. A dignified sort of a page,
or groom of the chambers, in a blue coat richly laced, and the order of
St. Jago dangling at his buttonhole, stood ready at the door to show us
up stairs, and, according to the Portuguese system of politeness, never
quitted our elbows a single moment.

I had hardly reconnoitred my new apartments, before Monsieur de Vallarè
was announced. He brought with him the Abade Correa, one of the
luminaries of modern Portuguese literature, whose conversation afforded
me great amusement. We sallied out together to visit the fortifications,
the stables for the cavalry, and barracks for the soldiers, which are
all in admirable order; thanks to the governor, who is indefatigable in
his exertions, and retains at a very experienced age the agility of
five-and-twenty. I was delighted with his cheerful, military frankness,
and unaffected attentions. He told me, he had stood the fire of our
formidable column at Fontenoy, and never enjoyed himself so much in his
life, as in the smoke and havoc of that furious engagement.

From one of the bastions to which he conducted us, we had a distinct
view of the fort de la Lippe, erected at an enormous expense on the
summit of a woody mountain. Had the weather been fine, it might have
tempted me to climb up to it; but showers beginning to descend, I
preferred taking shelter in a snug apartment of the maréchal, enlivened
by a blazing pile of aromatic woods, raised up on a grate in a
christian-like manner. The abade and I drawing close to this hospitable
hearth, talked over Lisbon and its inhabitants; whilst Verdeil amused
himself with scrutinizing some minerals the maréchal had collected, and
which lay scattered about his room.

In these occupations the time passed till supper. We had pork delicately
flavoured, exquisite quails, and salads, prepared in different manners,
the most delicious I ever tasted. Our conversation was lively and
unrestrained; Correa has an originality of genius and freedom of
sentiment, which the terrors of the inquisition have not yet
extinguished.



LETTER III.

     Pass the rivulet which separates Spain and Portugal.--A muleteer’s
     enthusiasm.--Badajoz.--The cathedral.--Journey resumed.--A vast
     plain.--Village of Lubaon.--Withered hags.--Names and characters of
     our mules.--Posada at Merida.


Monday, Dec. 3rd, 1787.

The maréchal and the abade breakfasted with me, but the rain prevented
my taking another walk about the fortifications, and seeing the troops
go through their exercise. At ten we set off, well escorted, traversed a
dismal plain, and passed a rivulet which separates the two kingdoms. No
sooner had one of our muleteers passed this boundary, than cutting a
cross in the turf with his knife, he fell prostrate and kissed the
ground with a transport of devotion.

Upon ascending the bank of the rivulet we came in sight of Badajoz and
its long narrow bridge over the Guadiana. The custom-house was all
mildness and moderation. Its harpies have neither flown away with my
books, as Bezerra predicted, nor set their talons in my coffers. At
sight of my passport, such a one, I believe, as is not very frequently
granted, all difficulties gave way, and I was permitted to enter the
lonely, melancholy streets of Badajoz, without being stopped an instant,
or having my baggage ransacked.

This circumstance, no wonder, gave me greater satisfaction than the
aspect of the town and its inhabitants, which is decidedly gloomy. Every
house almost has grated-windows, and the few human creatures that stared
at us from them, were muffled up to their noses in heavy mantles of the
darkest colours.

We continued winding half an hour in slow and solemn procession through
narrow streets and alleys, whose gutters were full to the brim, before
we reached the large dingy mansion their excellencies, the governor and
intendant, had been so gracious as to allot for my reception. Both these
personages were, providentially, laid up with agues, or else, it seems,
I should have been honoured with their company the whole evening.

A mob of eyes and mantles, for neither mouths, arms, nor scarcely legs
were discernible, assembled round the carriages the moment they halted,
and had the patience to remain in the street, silently smoking their
cigarros, the whole time I was at dinner.

It was night before I rose from table, crept down stairs, and, though it
continued raining at frequent intervals, waded to the cathedral, through
much mire, and between several societies of hogs, which lay sweetly
sleeping to the murmur of dropping eaves, in the midst of gutters and
kennels.

The cathedral is formed by three aisles of equal breadth, supported by
pillars and arches, in a tolerably good pointed style. Several lofty
chapels open into them, with solemn gates of iron. In the centre of the
middle aisle some bungling architect has awkwardly stuck the choir, not
many paces from the principal entrance, and by so doing has shut out the
view of the high altar: no great loss, however, the high altar looking
little better than a huge mass of rock-work, gilt and burnished. Under
the choir is a staircase leading down to the grated entrance of a vault.
Lamps were burning before many of the altars, and they distributed a
faint light throughout the whole edifice.

I paced silently to and fro in the aisles, whilst the canons were
chaunting vespers. The choristers still retain the same dress in which
St. Anthony is represented, in the picture which hung by the miraculous
cross he indented when flying the persecutions of Satan. There was a
solemnity in the glimmer of the lamps, the gloomy, indefinite depth of
the chapels, and the darkness of the vault beneath the choir, that
affected me. I passed a very uncomfortable evening, and a worse night.


Tuesday, Dec. 4.

Not a wink of sleep did the musquitos allow me. I was glad to call for
lights at four, and was still happier to step into the coach at five;
from that hour to half-past-eight I contrived to slumber in a feverish,
agitated manner, that did me little good.

When I opened my eyes, I found myself traversing a vast plain as level
as the ocean. In summer, this waste must convey none but ideas of
sterility and desolation; at present, a fresh verdure, browsed by
numerous flocks, rendered its appearance tolerable. The sheep, which
are large and thriving, have fleeces as long and as silky as the hair of
a barbet, combed every day by the hands of its mistress. I observed
numbers of lambs of the most shining whiteness, with black ears and
noses; just such neat little animals as those I remember to have seen in
the era of Dresden china, at the feet of smirking shepherdesses.

We dined at a village of mud cottages, called Lubaon, situated on some
rising ground, about eighteen miles from Badajoz, whose inhabitants seem
to have attained the last stage of poverty and wretchedness. Two or
three withered hags, that even in the prophet Habakkuk’s resurrection of
dry bones, would have attracted attention, laid hold of me the moment I
got out of the carriage. I thought the cold hand of the weird sisters
was giving me a gripe; and trembled lest, whether I would or not, I
might hear some fatal prediction. To get out of their way I flew to the
church, an old gothic building, placed on the edge of a steep, which
shelves almost perpendicularly down to the banks of the Guadiana, and
took sanctuary in its porch. There I remained till summoned to dinner,
listening to the murmur of the distant river flowing round sandy
islands.

I won the hearts of my muleteers by caressing their mules, and inquiring
with a respectful earnestness their names and characters. Capitana may
be depended upon in cases of labour and difficulty; Valerosa is skittish
and enterprising; Pelerina rather sluggish and cowardly; but la
Commissaria unites every mulish perfection; is tractable, steady, and
sure-footed, and at the same time (to use the identical expression of my
calasero) the greatest driver of dirt before her in the universe. She is
certainly an animal of uncommon resolution; and when tired to death by
the slow paces of her companions, how often have I wished myself
abandoned to her guidance in a light two-wheeled chaise.

We left Lubaon at half-past two, and, as I had the happiness of sleeping
almost the whole way to Merida, can give little account of the country.

I was hardly awake, when we entered the posada at Merida, and started
back, dazzled with an illumination of wax-lights, solemnly stuck in
sconces all round a lofty room, with glaring white walls, as if I had
been expected to lie in state. In the middle of the apartment stood a
large brasier, full of glowing embers, exhaling so strong a perfume of
rosemary and lavender, that my head swam, and I reeled like a drunkard.
But as soon as this vile machine was removed, I sat down to write in
peace and comfort.



LETTER IV.

     Arrival at Miaxadas.--Monotonous singing.--Dismal
     country.--Truxillo.--A rainy morning.--Resume our journey.--Immense
     wood of cork-trees.--Almaraz.--Reception by the escrivano.--A
     terrific volume.--Village of Laval de Moral.--Range of lofty
     mountains.--Calzada.


Wednesday, Dec. 5th, 1787.

About five leagues from Merida we stopped at a hovel too wretched to
afford shelter even to our mules. The situation, amidst green hills
scattered over with picturesque ilex, is not unpleasant; and such was
the mildness of the day, that we spread our table on a knoll, and dined
in the open air, surrounded by geese and asses, to whom I distributed
ample slices of water-melons. From this spot three short leagues brought
us to Miaxadas, where we arrived at night. Its inhabitants were gathered
in clusters at their doors, each holding a lamp, and crying, “Biva!
Biva!”

Instead of entering a dirty posada, my courier ushered me into a sort
of gallery, with a handsome arched roof, matted all over, and set round
with gilt chairs. The donna de la casa made very low obeisances, not
without great primness, and her maids sang tirannas with a wailful
monotony that wore my very soul out.


Thursday, Dec. 6th.

Soaking rain and dismal country, thick strewn with fragments of rock.
Mountains wrapped in mists,--here and there a few green spots studded
with mushrooms. We went seven leagues without stopping, and reached
Truxillo by four. It was this gloomy city, situated on a black eminence,
that gave birth to the ruthless Pizarro, the scourge of the Peruvians,
and the murderer of Atabaliba. We were lodged in a very tolerable
posada, unmolested by speech-makers, and heard no noise but the
trickling of showers.


Friday, Dec. 7th.

I was awakened at five: the gutters were pouring, and all the
water-spouts of Truxillo streaming with rain. An hour and a half did I
pass in a ghostly twilight, my candles being packed up, and all the oil
of the house expended. It required great exertion on the part of my
vigilant courier to prevail on our hulky muleteers to expose themselves
to the bad weather.

At length, with much ado, we rumbled out of Truxillo, and after
traversing for the space of two leagues the nakedest and most dreary
region I ever beheld, a faint gleam of sunshine melted the deadly white
of the thick clouds which hung over us, and the horizon brightening up,
we discovered a wood of cork-trees interspersed with lawns extending as
far as the eye could stretch itself. These green spots continued to
occur our whole way to Saraseços. There we halted, dined in haste at not
half so wretched a posada as I had been taught to expect, and continuing
our route, the sky clearing, ascended a mountain, from whose brow we
looked down on a valley variegated with patches of ploughed land, wild
shrubberies, and wandering rivulets.

We had not much time to feast our eyes with this pastoral prospect; the
clouds soon rolled over it, and we found ourselves in a damp fog. The
rest of our journey to Almaraz was a total blank; we saw nothing and
heard nothing, and arrived at the place of our destination in perfect
health and stupidity.

The escrivano, who is the judge and jury of the village, was so kind as
to accommodate us with his house, and so polite as not to incommode us
with his presence. He is a holy man, and a strenuous advocate for the
immaculate conception, no less than three large folios upon that
mysterious subject lying about in his apartment.


Saturday, Dec. 8th.

Whilst the muleteers were harnessing their beasts together with rotten
cords, I took up a little old book of my pious host’s, full of the most
dismal superstitions, entitled _Espeio de Cristal fino, y Antorcha que
aviva el alma_, and read in it till I was benumbed with horror. Many
pages are engrossed with a description of the state into which the
author imagines we are plunged immediately after death. The body he
supposes conscious of all that befalls it in the grave, of exchanging
its warm, comfortable habitation for the cold, pestilential soil of a
churchyard, conscious that its friends have abandoned it for ever, and
of its inability to call them back; to be sensible of the approaches and
progress of the most loathsome corruption, and to hear the voice of an
accusing angel, recapitulating its offences, and summoning it to the
judgment of God. The book ends with a vehement exhortation to repent
while there is yet time, and to procure by fervent prayer, and ample
donations to religious communities, the intercession of the host of
martyrs and of Nuestra Señora. I can easily conceive these scarecrow
publications of infinite use in frightening three parts of mankind out
of their senses, prolonging the reign, and swelling the coffers of the
clergy.

The horrid images I had seen in this (Espeio) mirror haunted my fancy
for several hours. To dissipate them I mounted my horse, and eagerly
inhaled the fresh breezes that blew over springing herbage, and wastes
of lavender. The birds were singing, the clouds dividing, and
discovering long tracts of soft blue sky. I galloped gaily along a level
country, interspersed with woods of ilex, to the village of Laval de
Moral, where the inhabitants were most devoutly employed in their
churches conciliating the favour of the madonna by keeping holy the
festival of the immaculate conception. There the coach coming up with
me, I got in; and the mules dragging it along at a rate which in the
days of my fire and fury would have made me thump out its bottom with
impatience, I fell into a resigned slumber, and am ignorant of every
object between Laval de Moral and Calzada, in sight of which town I
awoke near five in the evening.

The sun was setting in a sea of molten gold, and tinging the snows of a
range of lofty mountains, which I discovered for the first time bounding
our horizon. I might have seen them before most probably, had they not
remained till this evening wrapped up in rainy vapours.

It is at their base the Escurial is situated. I had the consolation of
stepping out of the coach at Calzada into a house with cheerful, neat
apartments, with an open gallery, where I walked contemplating the red
streams of light, and brilliant skirted clouds of the western sky, till
dinner came upon table. Though the doors and windows were all wide open,
I suffered no inconvenience worth mentioning from cold. The master of
the house, a portly, pompous barber-surgeon, most firm in his belief of
the supremacy of Spain over every country in the universe, confessed,
however, the weather was uncommonly warm, and that so mild a month of
December was rather extraordinary.



LETTER V.

     Sierra de los Gregos.--Mass.--Oropeza.--Talavera--Drawling
     tirannas.--Talavera de la Reyna.--Reception at Santa Olaya.--The
     lady of the house, and her dogs and dancers.


Sunday, December 9th, 1787.

The mountains I saw yesterday are called the Sierra de los Gregos, and
the winds that blow over their summits begin to chill the atmosphere;
but the sun is shining gloriously, and not a cloud obscures his
effulgence. The stars were still twinkling in the firmament, when I was
attracted to mass in the large gloomy church of a nunnery, by the voices
of the Lord’s spouses issuing from a sepulchral grate bristled with
spikes of iron. These tremulous, plaintive sounds filled me with such
sadness, and so many recollections of interesting hours departed never
to return, that I felt relieved when I found myself out of sight of the
convent, on a cheerful road thronged with passengers.

We passed Oropeza, a picturesque, Italian-looking town, on the brow of a
mountain; dined at a venda, in the midst of a savage tract of
forest-land, infamous till within this year or two for robberies and
assassinations; and reached Talavera de la Reyna by sunset.

More, I believe, has been said in praise of this town than it deserves.
Its appearance is far from cheerful or elegant; and the heavy
brick-fronts of the convents and churches as ill designed as executed.
The streets, however, are crowded with people, who seem to be moving
about with rather more activity than falls to the lot of Spaniards in
general. I am told the silk-manufactories at Talavera are in a
flourishing state, and have taken a good many hands out of the folds of
their mantles.

Colmenar is perpetually leading me into errors, and causing me
disappointments. He pretends that the inhabitants of this place are
nearly as skilful as those of Pekin and Macao in the manufacturing of
lacquered wares, and that their pottery is unrivalled; but, upon
inquiry, I found the Talaverans no particular proficients in varnish,
and that they had neither a cup nor basin to produce in the least
preferable to those of other villages.

In one art they are indefatigable, I can answer to my sorrow; that is,
singing drawling tirannas to the monotonous accompaniment of a sort of
hum-strum or hurdy-gurdy, or the devil knows best what sort of
instruments, for such as I hear at this moment under my windows are only
fit to be played in his dominions. I am quite at the mercy of these
untoward minstrels; if they cease not, I must defer sleeping to another
opportunity. Am I then come into Spain to hear hum-strums and
hurdy-gurdies? Where are the rapturous seguidillas, of which I have been
told such wonders? Do they exist, or, like the japanned wares of the
Talaverans, are they only to be found in books of travels and
geographical dictionaries?


Monday, December 10th.

I beg Talavera de la Reyna a thousand pardons; it is not quite so
frightful as it appeared in the twilight of yesterday evening. Many of
the houses have a palace-like appearance, and the interior of the old
gothic cathedral, though not remarkably spacious, has an air of
magnificence; the stalls of the choir are elaborately carved, and on
each side the high altar, curtains of the richest crimson damask fall
from the roof in ample folds, and cast a ruddy glow on the pavement.

If Talavera has nothing within its walls to be much boasted of, there
are many objects in its environs that merit praise. No sooner had we
left its dark crooked streets behind us, than we discovered a thick wood
of elms skirting an extensive lawn, beautifully green and level, from
which rises the convent of Nuestra Señora del Prayo, crowned by an
octangular cupola. This edifice is built of brick encrusted with stone
ornaments, and choked up by ranges of arcades and heavy galleries. I
have seen several structures which resembled it in the neighbourhood of
Antwerp and Brussels; but whether the Spaniards carried this clumsy
style of architecture into the Low Countries, or borrowed from thence,
is scarcely worth while to determine.

Not far from Nuestra Señora del Prayo we crossed the Tagus, and
continued dragging through heavy sands for five tedious hours, without
perceiving a habitation, or meeting any animal, biped or quadruped,
except herds of swine, in which, I believe, consist the principal riches
of this part of the Spanish dominions. I doubt whether the royal sty of
Ithaca was half so well garnished, as many private ones in New Castile
and Estremadura.

Having nothing to look at except a dreary plain bounded by barren,
uninteresting mountains, I was reduced to tumble over the trashy
collection of books, with which I happen in this journey to be provided;
poor fiddle-faddle Derrick’s Letters from Cork, Chester, and Tunbridge;
John Buncle, Esquire’s, life, holy rhapsodies, and peregrinations;
Shenstone’s, Mr. Whistler’s, and the good Duchess of Somerset’s
Correspondence; Bray’s tour, right worthy of an ass; Heley’s fulsome
description of the Leasowes and Hagley; Clarke’s ponderous account of
Spain; and Major Dalrymple’s dry, tiresome, and splenetic excursion.
There’s a set, equal it if you can. I hope to get a better at Madrid,
and throw my old stock into the Mançanares.

We dined at a village called Brabo, not in the least worth mentioning,
and arrived in due tiresome course, about six in the evening, at Santa
Olaya, where my courier had procured us an admirable lodging in the
house of a veteran colonel. The principal apartment, in which I pitched
my bed, was a lofty gallery, with large folding glazed doors, gilt and
varnished, its white walls almost covered with saintly pictures and
small mirrors, stuck near the ceiling, beyond the reach of mortal sight,
as if their proprietor was afraid they would wear out by being looked
into. On low tables, to the right and left of the door, stood
glass-cases, filled with relics and artificial flowers. Stools covered
with velvet, and raised not above a foot from the floor, were stationed
all round the room. On one of these I squatted like an oriental, warming
my hands over a brasier of coals.

The old lady of the house, followed by a train of curtseying handmaids
and snifling lapdogs, favoured me with her company the best part of the
evening. Her spouse, the colonel, being indisposed, did not make his
appearance. Whilst she was entertaining me with a most flourishing
detail of the excellent qualities and wonderful acquisitions of the
infant Don Louis, who died about two years ago at his villa in this
neighbourhood, some very grotesque figures entered the antechamber, and
tinkling their guitars, struck up a seguidilla, that in a minute or two
set all the feet in the house in motion. Amongst the dancers, two young
girls, whose jetty locks were braided with some degree of elegance,
shone forth in a fandango, beating the ground and snapping their fingers
with rapturous agility.

This sport lasted a full hour, before they showed the least sign of
being tired; then succeeded some languorous tirannas, by no means so
delightful as I expected. I was not sorry when the ball ceased, and my
kind hostess, moving off with all her dogs and dancers, left me to sup
and sleep in tranquillity.



LETTER VI.

     Dismal plains.--Santa Cruz.--Val de Carneiro.--A most determined
     musical amateur.--The Alcayde Mayor.--Approach to Madrid.--Aspect
     of the city.--The Calle d’Alcala.--The Prado.--The Ave-Maria bell.


Tuesday, Dec. 11th, 1787.

Dismal plains and still more dismal mountains; no indication as yet of
the approach to a capital; dined at Santa Cruz; thought we should have
been flayed alive by its greedy inhabitants; arrived in the dark at Val
de Carneiro; lodged in the house of a certain Don Bernardo, passionately
fond of music. The apartment allotted to me contained no less than two
harpsichords: one of them, in a fine gilt case, very pompous and sullen,
I could scarcely prevail upon the keys to move; next it stood a very
sweet-toned modest little spinet, that responded to my touch right
willingly, and as I happened to play some Brazilian ditties Don
Bernardo never heard before, he was so good as to be in raptures.

These were becoming every minute more enthusiastic, when the arrival of
the alcayde mayor, followed by a priest or two with enormous spectacles
on their thin snipish noses, interrupted our harmonious proceedings.
This personage came expressly to pay me a visit, and to ask questions
about England and her unnatural offspring, the revolted provinces of
North America; a country which he had heard was colder and darker than
the grave, and spread all over with animals, whether biped or quadruped
he could not tell, called _koakeres_, living like beavers, in strange
huts or tabernacles of their own construction.


Wednesday, Dec. 12th.

Don Bernardo showed me his cellars, in which are several casks capable
of holding thirty or forty hogsheads, and ranges of jars in the shape of
the antique amphoræ, ten feet high, and not less than six in diameter.
For the first time in my life I tasted the genuine Spanish chocolate,
spiced and cinnamoned beyond all endurance. It has put my mouth in a
flame, and I do nothing but spit and sputter.

The weather was so damp and foggy that we could hardly see ten yards
before us: I cannot, therefore, in conscience abuse the approach to
Madrid so much, I believe, as it deserves. About one o’clock, the
vapours beginning to dissipate, a huge mass of building, and a confused
jumble of steeples, domes, and towers, started on a sudden from the
mist. The large building I soon recognized to be the new palace. It is a
good deal in the style of Caserta, but being raised on a considerable
eminence, produces a more striking effect. At its base flows the pitiful
river Mançanares, whose banks were all of a flutter with linen hanging
out to dry.

We passed through this rag-fair, between crowds of mahogany-coloured
hags, who left off thumping their linen to stare at us, and, crossing a
broad bridge over a narrow streamlet, entered Madrid by a gateway of
very indifferent architecture. The neat pavement of the streets, the
loftiness of the houses, and the cheerful showy appearance of many of
the shops, far surpassed my expectation.

Upon entering the Calle d’Alcala, a noble street, much wider than any in
London, I was still more surprised. Several magnificent palaces and
convents adorn it on both sides. At one extremity, you perceive the
trees and fountains of the Prado, and, at the other, the lofty domes of
a series of churches. We have got apartments at the Cruz de Malta,
which, though very indifferently furnished, have at least the advantage
of commanding this prospect. I passed half-an-hour after dinner in one
of the balconies, gazing upon the variety of equipages which were
rattling along. The street sloping gradually down, and being paved with
remarkable smoothness, they drove at a furious rate, the high fashion at
Madrid; where to hurry along at the risk of laming your mules, and
cracking their skulls, is to follow the example of his Majesty, than
whom no monarch drives with greater vehemence.

I strolled to the Prado, and was much struck by the spaciousness of the
principal walk, the length of the avenues, and the stateliness of the
fountains. Though the evening was damp and gloomy, a great many people
were rambling about, and a long line of carriages parading. The dress of
the ladies, the cut of their servants’ liveries, the bags of the
coachmen, and the painting of the coaches, were so perfectly Parisian,
that I fancied myself on the Boulevards, and looked in vain for those
ponderous equipages, surrounded by pages and escudeiros, one reads of in
Spanish romances. A total change has taken place, and the original
national customs are almost obliterated.

Devotion, however, is not yet banished from the Prado; at the ringing of
the Ave-Maria bell, the coaches stopped, the servants took off their
hats, the ladies crossed themselves, and the foot passengers stood
motionless, muttering their orisons. There is both opera and play
to-night, I believe, but I am in no mood to go to either.



LETTER VII.

     The Duchess of Berwick in all her nonchalance.--Her apartment
     described.--Her passion for music.--Her señoras de honor.


Thursday, Dec. 13th, 1787.

It was a heavy damp morning, and I could hardly prevail upon myself to
quit my fireside and deliver the archbishop’s most confidential
despatches to the Portuguese ambassador Don Diogo de Noronha.

The ambassador being gone to the palace, I drove to the Duchess of
Berwick’s, my old acquaintance, with whom I passed so much of my time at
Paris eight years ago. Her dear spouse, so well known at Spa, Brussels,
Aix-la-Chapelle, and all the gaming-places of Europe, by the name,
style, and title of marquis of Jamaica, has been departed these five or
six months; and she is now mistress of the most splendid palace in
Madrid, of one of the first fortunes, and of the affairs of her only
son, the present Duke of Berwick, to whom she is guardian.

The façade of the palace, and the spacious court before it, pleased me
extremely. It is in the best style of modern Parisian architecture,
simple and graceful. I was conducted up a majestic staircase, adorned
with corinthian columns, and through a long suite of apartments, at the
extremity of which, in a saloon hung with embroidered India satin, sat
reclined madame la duchesse, in all her accustomed nonchalance. She
seemed never to have moved from her sofa since I last had the pleasure
of seeing her, and is exactly the same good-natured, indolent being,
free from malice or uncharitableness; I wish the world was fuller of
this harmless, quiet species.

The morning passed most rapidly away in talking over rose-coloured
times; I returned home to dine, and as soon as it was dark went back
again to madame de Berwick’s, who was waiting tea for me. I like her
apartment very much, the angles are taken off by low semicircular sofas,
and the space between them and the hangings filled up with slabs of
Granadian marble, on which are placed most beautiful porcelain vases
with mignonette and rose-trees in full bloom. The fire burnt cheerfully,
the table was drawn close to it; the duchess’s little girl, Donna
Ferdinanda, sat playing and smiling upon a dog, which she held in her
lap, and had swaddled up like an infant.

Soon after tea, the young duke of Berwick and a French abbé, his
preceptor, came in and stayed with us the remainder of the evening. The
duke is only fourteen and some months, but he is taller than I am, and
as plump as the plumpest of partridges. His manners are French, and his
address as prematurely formed as his figure. Few, if any, fortunes in
Europe equal that which he enjoys, and of which he has expectations;
being heir to the house of Alba, seventy thousand a-year at least, and
in possession of the Veragua and Liria estates. These immense properties
are of course underlet, and wretchedly cultivated. If able exertions
were made in their management, his income might be doubled.

Madame de Berwick has not lost her passion for music; operas and sonatas
lie scattered all over her apartment; not only singing-books were lying
on the carpet, but singers themselves; three of her musical attendants,
a page, and two pretty little señoras de honor, having cast themselves
carelessly at her feet in the true Spanish, or rather morisco, fashion,
ready to warble forth the moment she gave the signal, which was not long
delayed, and never did I hear more soothing voices. The inspiration they
gave rise to drove me to the piano-forte, where I played and sang those
airs Madame de Berwick was so fond of in the dawn of our acquaintance;
when, thanks to her cherished indolence, she had the resignation to
listen day after day, and hour after hour, to my romantic rhapsodies.
How fervid and ecstatic was I in those days; the toy of every impulse,
the willing dupe of every gay illusion. The duchess tells me, she thinks
from the tone of our conversation in the morning, that I am now a little
sobered, and may possibly get through this thorny world without losing
my wits on its briars.



LETTER VIII.

     The Chevalier de Roxas.--Excursion to the palace and gardens of the
     Buen Retiro.--The Turkish Ambassador and his numerous
     train.--Farinelli’s apartments.


Dec. 14th, 1785.

One of the best informed and pleasantest of Spaniards, the Chevalier de
Roxas, who had been very intimate both with Verdeil and me at Lausanne,
came in a violent hurry this morning to give us a cordial embrace. He
seems to have set his heart upon showing us about Madrid, and rendering
our stay here as lively as he could make it. Fifty schemes did he
propose in half a minute, of visiting museums, churches, and public
buildings; of goings to balls, theatres, and tertullias.

I took alarm at this busy prospect, drew back into my shell, and began
wishing myself in the most perfect incognito; but, alas! to no purpose,
it was all in vain.

Roxas, most eager to enter upon his office of cicerone, fidgeted to the
window, observed we had still an hour or two of daylight, and proposed
an excursion to the palace and gardens of the Buen Retiro. Upon entering
the court of the palace, which is surrounded by low buildings, with
plastered fronts, sadly battered by wind and weather, I espied some
venerable figures in caftans and turbans, leaning against a doorway.

My sparks of orientalism instantly burst into a flame at such a sight:
“Who are those picturesque animals?” said I to our conductor. “Is it
lawful to approach them?” “As often as you please,” answered Roxas.
“They belong to the Turkish ambassador, who is lodged, with all his
train, at the Buen Retiro, in the identical apartments once occupied by
Farinelli; where he held his state levees and opera rehearsals; drilling
ministers one day, and tenors and soprani the other: if you have a mind,
we will go up-stairs and examine the whole menagerie.”

No sooner said, no sooner done. I cleared four steps at a leap, to the
great delight of his sublime excellency’s pages and attendants, and
entered a saloon spread with the most sumptuous carpets, and perfumed
with the fragrance of the wood of aloes. In a corner of this magnificent
chamber sat the ambassador, Achmet Vassif Effendi, wrapped up in a
pelisse of the most precious sables, playing with a light cane he had in
his hand, and every now and then passing it under the noses of some
tall, handsome slaves, who were standing in a row before him. These
figures, fixed as statues, and to all appearance equally insensible,
neither moved hand nor eye. As I advanced to make my salam to the grand
seignor’s representative, who received me with a most gracious nod of
the head; his interpreter announced to what nation I belonged, and my
own individual warm partiality for the Sublime Porte.

As soon as I had taken my seat in a ponderous fauteuil of figured
velvet, coffee was carried round in cups of most delicate china, with
gold enamelled saucers. Notwithstanding my predilection for the east and
its customs, I could hardly get this beverage down, it was so thick and
bitter; whilst I was making a few wry faces in consequence, a low
murmuring sound, like that of flutes and dulcimers, accompanied by a
sort of tabor, issued from behind a curtain which separated us from
another apartment. There was a melancholy wildness in the melody, and a
continual repetition of the same plaintive cadences, that soothed and
affected me.

The ambassador kept poring upon my countenance, and appeared much
delighted with the effect his music seemed to produce upon it. He is a
man of considerable talent, deeply skilled in Turkish literature; a
native of Bagdad; rich, munificent, and nobly born, being descended from
the house of Barmek; gracious in his address, smooth and plausible in
his elocution; but not without something like a spark of despotism in a
corner of his eye. Now and then I fancied that the recollection of
having recommended the bow-string, and certain doubts whether he might
not one day or other be complimented with it in his turn, passed across
his venerable and interesting physiognomy.

My eager questions about Bagdad, the tomb of Zobeida, the vestiges of
the Dhar al Khalifat, or palace of the Abbassides, seemed to excite a
thousand remembrances which gave him pleasure; and when I added a few
quotations from some of his favourite authors, particularly Mesihi, he
became so flowingly communicative, that a shrewd dapper Greek, called
Timoni, who acted as his most confidential interpreter, could hardly
keep pace with him.

Had not the hour of prayer arrived, our conversation might have lasted
till midnight. Rising up with much stateliness, he extended his arms to
bid me a good evening, and was assisted along by two good-looking
Georgian pages, to an adjoining chamber, where his secretaries,
dragoman, and attendants, were all assembled to perform their devotions,
each on his little carpet, as if in a mosque; and it was not unedifying
to witness the solemnity and abstractedness with which these devotions
were performed.



LETTER IX.

     The Museum and Academy of Arts.--Scene on the Prado.--The
     Portuguese Ambassador and his comforters.--The Theatre.--A highly
     popular dancer.--Seguidillas in all their glory.


Sunday, Dec. 16th, 1787.

The kind, indefatigable Roxas came to conduct us to the Museum and
Academy of Arts. It consists of seven or eight apartments, with cases
all around them, in a plain, good style; the objects clearly arranged,
and exposed to view in a very intelligible manner. There is a vast
collection of minerals, corals, madrepores, and stalactites, from all
the grottoes in the universe; and curious specimens of virgin-gold and
silver. Amongst the latter, a lump weighing seventy pounds, which was
shivered off an enormous mass by a master miner, who, after dining on
it, with twelve or thirteen persons, hacked it to pieces, and
distributed the fragments amongst his guests.

What pleased me most was a collection of Peruvian vases; a polished
stone, which served the Incas for a mirror; and a linen mantle, which
formerly adorned their copper-coloured shoulders, as finely woven as a
shawl, and flowered in very nearly a similar manner, the colours as
fresh and vivid as if new.

In the apartments of the academy is a most valuable collection of casts
after the serene and graceful antique, and several fierce, obtrusive
daubings by modern Spanish artists.

I found our acute, intelligent chargé-d’affaires’[26] card lying on my
table when I got home, and a great many more, of equal whiteness; such a
sight chills me like a fall of snow, for I think of the cold idleness of
going about day after day dropping little bits of pasteboard in return.
Verdeil and I dined tête-à-tête, planning schemes how to escape formal
fussifications. No easy matter, I suspect, if I may judge from
appearances.

Our repast and our council over, we hurried to the Prado, where a
brilliant string of equipages was moving along in two files. In the
middle paraded the state coaches of the royal family, containing their
own precious selves, and their wonted accompaniment of bedchamber lords
and ladies, duly bedizened. It was a gay spectacle; the music of the
Swiss guards playing, and the evening sun shining bright on their showy
uniforms. The botanic garden is separated from the walk by magnificent
railings and pilasters, placed at regular distances, crowned with vases
of aloes and yuccas. The verdure and fountains of this vast enclosure,
terminated by a range of columned conservatories, with an entrance of
very majestic architecture, has a delightful and striking effect.

From the Prado I drove to the Portuguese ambassador’s, who is laid up
with a sore toe. Three diplomatic animals, two males and one female,
were nursing and comforting him. He is most supremely dull, and so are
his comforters. One of them in particular, who shall be nameless, quite
asinine.

The little sympathy I feel for creatures of this genus, made me shorten
my visit as much as I decently could, and return home to take up Roxas,
who was waiting to accompany us to the Spanish theatre. They were acting
the Barber of Seville, with Paesiello’s music, and singing better than
at the opera. The entertainment ended with a sort of intermez, very
characteristic of Spanish manners in low life; in which were introduced
seguidillas. One of the dancers, a young fellow, smartly dressed as a
maxo, so enraptured the audience, that they made him repeat his dance
four times over; a French dancing-master would have absolutely shuddered
at the manner in which he turned in his knees. The women sit by
themselves in a gallery as dingy as limbo, wrapped up in their white
mantillas, and looking like spectres. I never heard anything like the
vociferation with which the pit called out for the seguidillas, nor the
frantic, deafening applause they bestowed on their favourite dancer.

The play ended at eight, and we came back to tea by our fireside.



LETTER X.

     Visit to the Escurial.--Imposing site of that regal
     convent.--Reception by the Mystagogue of the place.--Magnificence
     of the choir.--Charles the Fifth’s organ.--Crucifix by
     Cellini.--Gorgeous ceiling painted by Luca Giordano.--Extent and
     intricacy of the stupendous edifice.


Thursday, Dec. 19th, 1787.

I hate being roused out of bed by candlelight on a sharp wintry morning;
but as I had fixed to-day for visiting the Escurial, and had stationed
three relays on the road, in order to perform the journey expeditiously,
I thought myself obliged to carry my plan into execution.

The weather was cold and threatening, the sky red and deeply coloured.
Roxas was to be of our party, so we drove to his brother, the Marquis of
Villanueva’s, to take him up. He is one of the best-natured and most
friendly of human beings, and I would not have gone without him upon
any account; though in general I abhor turning and twisting about a town
in search of any body, let its soul be never so transcendent.

It was past eight before we issued out of the gates of Madrid, and
rattled along an avenue on the banks of the Mançanares full gallop,
which brought us to the Casa del Campo, one of the king’s palaces,
wrapped up in groves and thickets. We continued a mile or two by the
wall of this enclosure, and leaving La Sarsuela, another royal villa,
surrounded by shrubby hillocks, on the right, traversed three or four
leagues of a wild, naked country, and, after ascending several
considerable eminences, the sun broke out, the clouds partially rolled
away, and we discovered the white buildings of this far-famed monastery,
with its dome and towers detaching themselves from the bold back-ground
of a lofty, irregular mountain.

We were now about a league off: the country wore a better aspect than
near Madrid. To the right and left of the road, which is of a noble
width, and perfectly well made, lie extensive parks of greensward,
scattered over with fragments of rock and stumps of oak and ash-trees.
Numerous herds of deer were standing stock-still, quietly lifting up
their innocent noses, and looking us full in the face with their
beautiful eyes, secure of remaining unmolested, for the King never
permits a gun to be discharged in these enclosures.

The Escurial, though overhung by melancholy mountains, is placed itself
on a very considerable eminence, up which we were full half an hour
toiling, the late rains having washed this part of the road into utter
confusion. There is something most severely impressive in the façade of
this regal convent, which, like the palace of Persepolis, is
overshadowed by the adjoining mountain; nor did I pass through a vaulted
cloister into the court before the church, solid as if hewn out of a
rock, without experiencing a sort of shudder, to which no doubt the
vivid recollection of the black and blood-stained days of our gloomy
queen Mary’s husband not slightly contributed. The sun being again
overcast, the porches of the church, surmounted by grim statues,
appeared so dark and cavern-like, that I thought myself about to enter a
subterraneous temple set apart for the service of some mysterious and
terrible religion. And when I saw the high altar, in all its pomp of
jasper-steps, ranks of columns one above the other, and paintings
filling up every interstice, full before me, I felt completely awed.

The sides of the recess, in which this imposing pile is placed, are
formed by lofty chapels, almost entirely occupied by catafalques of gilt
enamelled bronze. Here, with their crowns and sceptres humbly prostrate
at their feet, bare-headed and unhelmed, kneel the figures, large as
life, of the Emperor Charles the Fifth, and his imperious son, the
second Philip, accompanied by those of their unhappy consorts and
ill-fated children. My sensations of dread and dreariness were not
diminished upon finding myself alone in such company; for Roxas had left
me to deliver some letters to his right reverence the prior, which were
to open to us all the arcana of this terrific edifice, at once a temple,
a palace, a convent, and a tomb.

Presently my amiable friend returned, and with him a tall old monk, with
an ash-coloured forbidding countenance, and staring eyes, the expression
of which was the farthest removed possible from anything like
cordiality. This was the mystagogue of the place--the prior _in propria
persona_, the representative of St. Jerome, as far as this monastery and
its domain was concerned, and a disciplinarian of celebrated rigidness.
He began examining me from head to foot, and, after what I thought
rather a strange scrutiny, asked me in broad Spanish what I wished
particularly to see. Then turning to Roxas, said loud enough for me to
hear him, “He is very young; does he understand what I say to him? But,
as I am peremptorily commanded to show him about, I suppose I must
comply, though I am quite unused to the office of explaining our
curiosities. However, if it must be, it must; so let us begin, and not
dally. I have no time to spare, you well know, and have quite enough to
do in the choir and the convent.”

After this not very gracious exordium, we set forth on our tour. First
we visited some apartments with vaulted roofs, painted in arabesque, in
the finest style of the sixteenth century; and then a vast hall, which
had been used for the celebration of mass, whilst the great church was
building, where I saw the Perla in all its purity, the most
delicately-finished work of Raphael, the Pesce, with its divine angel,
graceful infant; and devout young Tobit, breathing the very soul of
pious, unaffected simplicity. My attention was next attracted by that
most profoundly pathetic of pictures, Jacob weeping over the bloody
garment of his son; the loftiest proof in existence of the extraordinary
powers of Velasquez in the noblest work of art.

These three pictures so absorbed my admiration, that I had little left
for a host of glorious performances by Titian and the highest masters,
which cover the plain, massive walls of these conventual rooms with a
paradise of glowing colours; so I passed along almost as rapidly as my
grumbling cicerone could desire, and followed him up several flights of
stairs, and through many and many an arched passage and vestibule, all
of the sternest doric, into the choir, which is placed over the grand
western entrance, right opposite, at the distance of more than two
hundred feet, to the high altar and its solemn accompaniments. No regal
chamber I ever beheld can be compared, in point of sober harmonious
majesty, to this apartment, which looks more as if it belonged to a
palace than to a church. The series of stalls, designed in a severer
taste than was common in the sixteenth century, are carved out of the
most precious woods the Indies could furnish. At the extremity of this
striking perspective of onyx-coloured seats, columns, and canopies,
appears suspended upon a black velvet pall that revered image of the
crucified Saviour, formed of the purest ivory, which Cellini seems to
have sculptured in moments of devout rapture and inspiration. It is by
far his finest work; his Perseus, at Florence, is tame and laboured in
comparison.

In a long narrow corridor which runs behind the stalls, panelled all
over like an inlaid cabinet, I was shown a beautiful little organ, in a
richly chased silver case, which accompanied Charles the Fifth in his
African expedition, and must often have gently beguiled the cares of
empire, for he played on it, tradition says, almost every evening. That
it is worth playing upon even now I can safely vouch, for I never
touched any instrument with a tone of more delicious sweetness; and
touch it I did, though my austere conductor, the sour-visaged prior,
looked doubly forbidding on the occasion.

The stalls I have just mentioned are much less ornamented than those I
have seen in Pavia, and many other monasteries; the ceiling of this
noblest of choirs, displays the utmost exuberance of decoration--the
richest and most gorgeous of spectacles, the heavens and all the powers
therein. Imagination can scarcely conceive the pomp and prodigality of
pencil with which Luca Giordano has treated this subject, and filled
every corner of the vast space it covers with well-rounded forms, that
seem actually starting from the glowing clouds with which they are
environed.

“Is not this fine?” said the monk; “you can have nothing like it in your
country. And now be pleased to move forward, for the day is wasting, and
you will have little time left to examine our inestimable relics, and
the jewelled shrines in which they are deposited.”

We went down from the choir, I can scarcely tell whither, such is the
extent and intricacy of this stupendous edifice. We passed, I believe,
through some of the lateral chapels at the great church, into several
quadrangles, one in particular, with a fountain under a cupola in the
centre, surrounded by doric arcades, equal in justness of proportion and
architectural terseness to Palladio’s court in the convent of S. Giorgio
Maggiore.



LETTER XI.

     Mysterious cabinets.--Relics of Martyrs.--A feather from the
     Archangel Gabriel’s wing.--Labyrinth of gloomy
     cloisters.--Sepulchral cave.--River of death.--The regal
     sarcophagi.


My lord the prior, not favouring a prolonged survey, I reluctantly left
this beautiful court, and was led into a low gallery, roofed and
wainscoted with cedar, lined on both sides by ranges of small doors of
different-coloured Brazil-wood, looking in appearance, at least, as
solid as marble. Four sacristans, and as many lay-brothers, with large
lighted flambeaux of yellow wax in their hands, and who, by the by,
never quitted us more the remainder of our peregrinations, stood silent
as death, ready to unlock those mysterious entrances.

The first they opened exhibited a buffet, or _credence_, three stories
high, set out with many a row of grinning skulls, looking as pretty as
gold and diamonds could make them; the second, every possible and
impossible variety of odds and ends, culled from the carcasses of
martyrs; the third, enormous ebony presses, the secrets of which I
begged for pity’s sake might not be intruded upon for my recreation, as
I began to be heartily wearied of sightseeing; but when my conductors
opened the fourth mysterious door, I absolutely shrank back, almost
sickened by a perfume of musk and ambergris.

A spacious vault was now disclosed to me--one noble arch, richly
panelled: had the pavement of this strange-looking chamber been strewn
with saffron, I should have thought myself transported to the enchanted
courser’s forbidden stable we read of in the tale of the Three
Calenders.

The prior, who is not easily pleased, seemed to have suspicions that the
seriousness of my demeanour was not entirely orthodox; I overheard him
saying to Roxas, “Shall I show him the Angel’s feather? you know we do
not display this our most-valued, incomparable relic to everybody, nor
unless upon special occasions.”--“The occasion is sufficiently
special,” answered my partial friend; “the letters I brought to you are
your warrant, and I beseech your reverence to let us look at this gift
of heaven, which I am extremely anxious myself to adore and venerate.”

Forth stalked the prior, and drawing out from a remarkably large cabinet
an equally capacious sliding shelf--(the source, I conjecture, of the
potent odour I complained of)--displayed lying stretched out upon a
quilted silken mattress, the most glorious specimen of plumage ever
beheld in terrestrial regions--a feather from the wing of the Archangel
Gabriel, full three feet long, and of a blushing hue more soft and
delicate than that of the loveliest rose. I longed to ask at what
precise moment this treasure beyond price had been dropped--whether from
the air--on the open ground, or within the walls of the humble tenement
at Nazareth; but I repressed all questions of an indiscreet
tendency--the why and wherefore, the when and how, for what and to whom
such a palpable manifestation of archangelic beauty and wingedness had
been vouchsafed.

We all knelt in silence, and when we rose up after the holy feather had
been again deposited in its perfumed lurking-place, I fancied the prior
looked doubly suspicious, and uttered a sort of _humph_ very doggedly;
nor did his ill-humour evaporate upon my desiring to be conducted to the
library. “It is too late for you to see the precious books and
miniatures by daylight,” replied the crusty old monk, “and you would not
surely have me run the risk of dropping wax upon them. No, no, another
time, another time, when you come earlier. For the present, let us visit
the tomb of the catholic kings; there, our flambeaux will be of service
without doing injury.”

He led the way through a labyrinth of cloisters, gloomy as the grave;
till ordering a grated door to be thrown open, the light of our
flambeaux fell upon a flight of most beautiful marble steps, polished as
a mirror, leading down between walls of the rarest jaspers to a portal
of no great size, but enriched with balusters of rich bronze, sculptured
architraves, and tablets of inscriptions, in a style of the greatest
magnificence.

As I descended the steps, a gurgling sound, like that of a rivulet,
caught my ear. “What means this?” said I. “It means,” answered the monk,
“that the sepulchral cave on the left of the stairs, where repose the
bodies of many of our queens and infantas, is properly ventilated,
running water being excellent for that purpose.” I went on, not lulled
by these rippling murmurs, but chilled when I reflected through what
precincts flows this river of death.

Arrived at the bottom of the stairs, we passed through the portal just
mentioned, and entered a circular saloon, not more than five-and-thirty
feet in diameter, characterized by extreme elegance, not stern
solemnity. The regal sarcophagi, rich in golden ornaments, ranged one
above the other, forming panels of the most decorative kind; the lustre
of exquisitely sculptured bronze, the pavement of mottled alabaster; in
short, this graceful dome, covered with scrolls of the most delicate
foliage, appeared to the eye of my imagination more like a subterranean
boudoir, prepared by some gallant young magician for the reception of an
enchanted and enchanting princess, than a temple consecrated to the
king of terrors.

My conductor’s visage growing longer and longer every minute, and
looking pretty nearly as grim as that of the last-mentioned sovereign, I
whispered Roxas it was full time to take our leave; which we did
immediately after my intimating that express desire, to the no small
satisfaction, I am perfectly convinced, of my lord the prior.

Cold and hungry, for we had not been offered a morsel of refreshment, we
repaired to a warm opulent-looking habitation belonging to one of my
kind companion’s most particular friends, a much favoured attendant of
his catholic Majesty’s; here we were received with open arms and
generous hospitality; and it grew pitch dark before we quitted this
comfortable shelter from the piercing winds, which blow almost
perpetually over the Escurial, and returned to Madrid.



LETTER XII.

     A concert and ball at Senhor Pacheco’s.--Curious assemblage in his
     long pompous gallery.--Deplorable ditty by an eastern
     dilettante.--A bolero in the most rapturous style.--Boccharini in
     despair.--Solecisms in dancing.


The mules galloped back at so rapid a rate, and their conductors bawled
and screamed so lustily to encourage their exertions, that half my
recollections of the Escurial were whirled out of my head before I
reached my old quarters at the Cruz de Malta. I had quite forgotten,
amongst other things, that I had actually accepted a most pressing
invitation to a concert and ball at Pacheco’s this very evening.

Pacheco is an old Portuguese, immensely rich, and who had been immensely
favoured in the days of his youth by his august countrywoman, Queen
Barbara, the consort of Ferdinand the sixth, and the patroness of
Farinelli. He is uncle to madame Arriaga, her most Faithful Majesty’s
most faithful and favourite attendant, and a person of such worship,
that courtiers, ministers, and prelates, are too happy to congregate at
his house, whenever he takes it into his head to allow them an
opportunity.

Though I had been half petrified by my cold ramble through the Escurial,
under the prior’s still more chilling auspices, I had quite life enough
left to obey Pacheco’s summons with alacrity; and as I expected to dance
a great deal, I put on my dancing-dress, that of a maxo, with ties and
tags, and trimmings and buttons, redecilla and all.

I must confess, however, that I felt rather abashed and disappointed,
upon entering Pacheco’s long pompous gallery, to find myself in the
midst of diplomatic and ministerial personages, assembled in stiff gala
to do honour to Achmet Vassif, whose musicians were seated on the carpet
howling forth a deplorable ditty, composed, as the Armenian interpreter
informed me, by one of the most impassioned and lovesick dilettantes of
the east; no strain I ever heard was half so lugubrious, not even that
of a dog baying the moon, or owls making their complaints to it.

I could not help telling the ambassador, without the smallest
circumlocution, that his tabor and pipe people I heard the other day
accompanying a dulcimer, were far more worthy of praise than his vocal
attendants; but this truth, like most others, did not exactly please;
and I fear my reputation for musical connoisseurship was completely
forfeited in his excellency’s estimation, for he looked a little glum
upon the occasion. What surprised me most, after all, was the patience
with which the whole assembly listened for full three-quarters of an
hour to these languorous wailings.

Amongst the audience, none bore the severe infliction with a greater
degree of evangelical resignation than the grand inquisitor and the
archbishop of Toledo; both these prelates have not only the look, but
the character of beneficence, which promises a truce to the faggot and
pitch-barrel; the expression of the archbishop’s countenance in
particular is most engagingly mild and pleasing. He came up to me
without the least reserve or formality, and taking me by the hand, said
with a cheerful smile, “I see you are equipped for a dance, and have
adopted our fashion; we all long to judge whether an Englishman can
enter (as I hear you can) into the extravagant spirit of our national
dances. I will speak to Pacheco, and desire him to form a diversion in
your favour, by calling off these doleful minstrels to the rinfresco
prepared for them.” And so he did, and there was an end of the concert,
to my infinite joy, and the no less delight of the villa mayors and
sabbatinis, with whom, without a moment’s farther delay, I sprang forth
in a bolero.

Down came all the Spanish musicians from their formal orchestra, too
happy to escape its trammels; away went the foreign regulars, taking
vehement pinches of snuff, with the most unequivocal expressions of
anger and indignation. A circle was soon formed, a host of guitars put
in immediate requisition, and never did I hear such wild, extravagant,
passionate modulations.

Boccharini, who led and presided over the Duchess of Ossuna’s concerts,
and who had been lent to Pacheco as a special favour, witnessed these
most original deviations from all established musical rule with the
utmost contempt and dismay. He said to me in a loud whisper, “If _you_
dance and _they_ play in this ridiculous manner, I shall never be able
to introduce a decent style into our musical world here, which I
flattered myself I was on the very point of doing. What possesses you?
Is it the devil? Who could suppose that a reasonable being, an
Englishman of all others, would have encouraged these inveterate
barbarians in such absurdities. There’s a chromatic scream! there’s a
passage! We have heard of robbing time; this is murdering it. What!
again! Why, this is worse than a convulsive hiccup, or the last rattle
in the throat of a dying malefactor. Give me the Turkish howlings in
preference; they are not so obtrusive and impudent.”

So saying, he moved off with a semi-seria stride, and we danced on with
redoubled delight and joy. The quicker we moved, the more intrepidly we
stamped with our feet, the more sonorously we snapped our fingers, the
better reconciled the sublime Effendi appeared to be with me. He forgot
my critiques upon his vocal performers: he rose up from his snug
cushion, and nodded his turbaned head, and expressed his delight, not
only by word and gesture, but in a most comfortable orientalish sort of
chuckling. As to the rest of the company, the Spanish part at least,
they were so much animated, that not less than twenty voices accompanied
the bolero with its appropriate words in full chorus, and with a glow of
enthusiasm that inspired my lovely partners and myself with such energy,
that we outdid all our former outdancings.

“Is it possible,” exclaimed an old fandango-fancier of great
notoriety--“is it possible, that a son of the cold north can have learnt
all our rapturous flings and stampings?”--“The French never _could_, or
rather never _would_,” observed a Monsieur Gaudin, one of the Duke de la
V----’s secretaries, who was standing by perfectly astounded.

Who persecute like renegades? who are so virulent against their former
sect as fresh converts to another? This was partly my case; though my
dancing and musical education had been strictly orthodox, according to
the precepts of Mozart and Sacchini, of Vestris and Gardel, I declared
loudly there was no music but Spanish, no dancing but Spanish, no
salvation in either art out of the Spanish pale, and that, compared with
such rapturous melodies, such inspired movements, the rest of Europe
afforded only examples of dullness and insipidity. I would not allow my
former instructors a spark of merit; and at the very moment I was
committing solecisms in good dancing at every step, and stamping and
piaffing like a courser but half-broken in at a manège, I felt and
looked as firmly persuaded of the truth of my impudent assertions as the
greatest bigot of his nonsense in some untried new-fangled superstition.
Success, founded or unfounded, is everything in this world. We too well
know the sad fate of merit. I am more than apt to conjecture we were but
very slightly entitled to any applause; yet the transports we called
forth were as fervid as those the famous Le Pique excited at Naples in
the zenith of his popularity.

The British and American ministers, who were standing by the whole time,
enjoyed this amusing proof of Spanish fanaticism, in its profane mood,
with all the zest of intelligent and shrewd observers. Pisani, the
Venetian ambassador, inclined decidedly to the southern side of the
question. He was bound, heart and soul, by a variety of silken ties to
the Spanish interest, and had almost forgotten the fascinations of
Venice in those of Andalusia. Consequently I had his vote in my favour.
Not so that of the Duchess of Ossuna, Boccharini’s patroness. She said
to me in the plainest language, “You are making the greatest fool of
yourself I ever beheld; and as to those riotous self-taught hoydens,
your partners, I tell you what, they are scarcely worthy to figure in
the third rank at a second-rate theatre. Come along with me, and I will
present you to my mother, the Countess of Benevente, who gives a very
different sort of education to the charming young women she admits to
her court.”

I had heard of this court and its delectabilities, and at the same time
been informed that its throne was a faro-table, to which the initiated
were imperatively expected to become tributaries. The sovereign, old
Benevente, is the most determined hag of her rout-giving, card-playing
species in Europe, of the highest birth, the highest consequence, and
the principal disposer, by long habit and old cortejo-ship, of Florida
Blanca’s good graces.

Notwithstanding the severe regulations against gambling societies, most
severely enforced at Madrid; notwithstanding the prime minister’s
morality, and the still higher morality of his royal master, this great
lady’s aberrations of every kind are most complaisantly winked at; she
is allowed not only to set up under her own princely roof a refuge for
the desolate, in the most delicate style of Spanish refinement, for the
kind purpose of enchanting all persons sufficiently favoured by fortune
to merit admission to her parties, by every blandishment and
languishment the most seductive eyes of Seville and Cadiz she had
collected together could throw around them; but so sure as the hour of
midnight arrived, and Florida Blanca (who never fails paying his devoirs
to the countess every evening) had made his retiring bow, so sure a
confidential party of illuminati, of unsleeping partners in the
gambling-line, made their appearance, heavily laden with well-stored
caskets.

Now came the tug of play, and hope, and fear in all their thrilling and
throbbing alternations; but, to say truth, I was so completely jaded and
worn-out that I partook of neither, and was too happy, after losing
almost unconsciously a few dobras, to be allowed to retire; old
Benevente calling out to me, with the croak of a vulture scenting its
prey from afar, _Cavallero Inglez, a mañana a la misma hora_.



LETTER XIII.

     Palace of Madrid.--Masterly productions of the great Italian,
     Spanish, and Flemish painters.--The King’s sleeping
     apartment.--Musical clocks.--Feathered favourites.--Picture of the
     Madonna del Spasimo.--Interview with Don Gabriel and the
     Infanta.--Her Royal Highness’s affecting recollections of
     home.--Head-quarters of Masserano.--Exhibition of national manners
     there.


Monday, 24th Dec. 1787.

I shall have the megrims for want of exercise, like my friend Achmet
Vassif, if I don’t alter my way of life. This morning I only took a
listless saunter in the Prado, and returned early to dinner, with a very
slight provision of fresh air in my lungs. Roxas was with me, hurrying
me out of all appetite that I might see the palace by daylight; and so
to the palace we went, and it was luckily a bright ruddy afternoon, the
sun gilding a grand confusion of mountainous clouds, and chequering the
wild extent of country between Madrid and the Escurial with powerful
effects of light and shade.

I cannot praise the front of the palace very warmly. In the centre of
the edifice starts up a whimsical sort of turret, with gilt bells, the
vilest ornament that could possibly have been imagined. The interior
court is of pure and classic architecture, and the great staircase so
spacious and well-contrived that you arrive almost imperceptibly at the
portal of the guard-chamber. Every door-case and window recess of this
magnificent edifice gleams with the richest polished marbles: the
immense and fortress-like thickness of the walls, and double panes of
the strongest glass, exclude the keen blasts which range almost
uninterrupted over the wide plains of Castile, and preserve an admirable
temperature throughout the whole extent of these royal rooms, the
grandeur, and at the same time comfort, of which cannot possibly be
exceeded.

The king, the prince of Asturias, and the chief part of their
attendants, were all absent hunting in the park of the Escurial; but the
reposteros, or curtain-drawers of the palace, having received particular
orders for my admittance, I enjoyed the entire liberty of wandering
about unrestrained and unmolested. Roxas having left me to join a gay
party of the royal body-guard in Masserano’s apartments, I remained in
total solitude, surrounded by the pure unsullied works of the great
Italian, Spanish, and Flemish painters, fresh as the flowers of a
parterre in early morning, and many of them as beautiful in point of
hues.

Not a door being closed, I penetrated through the chamber of the throne
even into the old king’s sleeping-apartment, which, unlike the dormitory
of most of his subjects, is remarkable for extreme neatness. A book of
pious orisons, with engravings by Spanish artists, and containing,
amongst other prayers in different languages, one adapted to the
exclusive use of majesty, _Regi solo proprius_, was lying on his
praying-desk; and at the head of the richly-canopied, but uncurtained
bed, I noticed with much delight an enamelled tablet by Mengs,
representing the infant Saviour appearing to Saint Anthony of Padua.

In this room, as in all the others I passed through, without any
exception, stood cages of gilded wire, of different forms and sizes,
and in every cage a curious exotic bird, in full song, each trying to
out-sing his neighbour. Mingled with these warblings was heard at
certain intervals the low chime of musical clocks, stealing upon the ear
like the tones of harmonic glasses. No other sound broke in any degree
the general stillness, except, indeed, the almost inaudible footsteps of
several aged domestics, in court-dresses of the cut and fashion
prevalent in the days of the king’s mother, Elizabeth Farnese, gliding
along quietly and cautiously to open the cages, and offer their inmates
such dainties as highly-educated birds are taught to relish. Much
fluttering and cowering down ensued in consequence of these attentions,
and much rubbing of bills and scratching of poles on my part, as well as
on that of the smiling old gentlemen.

As soon as the ceremony of pampering these feathered favourites had been
most affectionately performed, I availed myself of the light reflected
from a clear sun-set to examine the pictures, chiefly of a religious
cast, with which these stately apartments are tapestried; particularly
the Madonna del Spasimo, that vivid representation of the blessed
Virgin’s maternal agony, when her divine son, fainting under the
burthen of the cross, approached to ascend the mount of torture, and
complete the awful mystery of redemption. Raphael never attained in any
other of his works such solemn depth of colour, such majesty of
character, as in this triumph of his art. “Never was sorrow like unto
the sorrow” he has depicted in the Virgin’s countenance and attitude;
never was the expression of a sublime and God-like calm in the midst of
acute suffering conveyed more closely home to the human heart than in
the face of Christ.

I stood fixed in the contemplation of this holy vision--for such I
almost fancied it to be--till the approaching shadows of night had
overspread every recess of these vast apartments: still I kept intensely
gazing upon the picture. I knew it was time to retire,--still I gazed
on. I was aware that Roxas had been long expecting me in Masserano’s
apartments,--still I could not snatch myself away; the Virgin mother
with her outstretched arms still haunted me. The song of the birds had
ceased, as well as the soft diapason of the self-playing organs;--all
was hushed, all tranquil. I departed at length with the languid
unwillingness of an enthusiast exhausted by the intensity of his
feelings and loth to arouse himself from the bosom of grateful
illusions.

Just as I reached the portal of the great stairs, whom should I meet but
Noronha advancing towards me with a hurried step. “Where are you going
so fast?” said he to me, “and where have you been staying so long? I
have been sending repeatedly after you to no purpose; you must come with
me immediately to the Infanta and Don Gabriel, they want to ask you a
thousand questions about the Ajuda: the letters you brought them from
Marialva, and the archbishop in particular, have, I suppose, inspired
that wish; and as royal wishes, you know, cannot be too speedily
gratified, you must kiss their hands this very evening. I am to be your
introductor.”--“What!” said I, “in this unceremonious dress?”--“Yes,”
said the ambassador, “I have heard that you are not a pattern of
correctness in these matters.” I wished to have been one in this
instance. At this particular moment I was in no trim exteriorly or
interiorly for courtly introductions. I thought of nothing but birds and
pictures, and had much rather have been presented to a cockatoo than to
the greatest monarch in Christendom.

However, I put on the best face I was able, and we proceeded together
very placidly to that part of the palace assigned to Don Gabriel and his
blooming bride. The doors of a coved ante-chamber flew open, and after
passing through an enfilade of saloons peopled with ladies-in-waiting
and pages, (some mere children,) we entered a lofty chamber hung with
white satin, formed into compartments by a rich embroidery of gold and
colours, and illuminated by a lustre of rock crystal.

At the farther extremity of the apartment, stood the Infant Don Gabriel,
leaning against a table covered with velvet, on which I observed a case
of large golden antique medals he was in the very act of contemplating:
the Infanta was seated near. She rose up most graciously to hold out a
beautiful hand, which I kissed with unfeigned fervour: her countenance
is most prepossessing; the same florid complexion, handsome features,
and open exhilarating smile which distinguishes her brother the Prince
of Brazil.

“Ah,” said her royal highness with great earnestness, “you have then
lately seen my dear mother, and walked perhaps in the little garden I
was so fond of; did you notice the fine flowers that grow there?
particularly the blue carnation; we have not such flowers at Madrid;
this climate is not like that of Portugal, nor are our views so
pleasant; I miss the azure Tagus, and your ships continually sailing up
it; but when you write to your friend Marialva and the archbishop, tell
them, I possess what no other prospect upon earth can equal, the smiles
of an adored husband.”

The Infant now approached towards me with a look of courteous benignity
that reminded me strongly of the Bourbons, nor could I trace in his
frank kindly manner the least leaven of Austrian hauteur or Spanish
starchness. After inquiring somewhat facetiously how the Duke d’Alafoens
and the Portuguese academicians proceeded on their road to the temple of
fame, he asked me whether our universities continued to be the favoured
abode of classical attainments, and if the books they printed were as
correct and as handsome now as in the days of the Stuarts; adding that
his private collection contained some copies which had formerly
belonged to the celebrated Count of Oxford. This was far too good an
opportunity of putting in a word to the praise and glory of his own
famous translation of Sallust, to be neglected; so I expressed
everything he could have wished to hear upon the subject.

“You are very good,” observed his royal highness; “but to tell you the
truth, it was hard work for me. I began it, and so I went on, and lost
many a day’s wholesome exercise in our parks and forests: however, such
as it is, I performed my task without any assistance, though you may
perhaps have heard the contrary.”

It was now Noronha’s turn to begin complimenting, which he did with all
the high court mellifluence of an accredited family ambassador: whether,
indeed, the Infant received as gospel all the fine things that were said
to him I won’t answer, but he looked even kinder and more gracious than
at our first entrance. The Infanta recurred again and again to the
subject of the Ajuda, and appeared so visibly affected that she awakened
all my sympathies; for I, too, had left those behind me on the banks of
the Tagus for whom I felt a fond and indelible regard. As we were
making our retiring bows, I saw tears gathering in her eyes, whilst she
kept gracefully waving her hand to bid us a happy night.

The impressions I received from this interview were not of a nature to
allow my enjoying with much vivaciousness the next scene to which I was
transported--the head-quarters of Masserano, whom I found in unusually
high spirits surrounded by a train of gay young officers, rapping out
the rankest Castilian oaths, quaffing their flowing cups of champagne
and val de peñas, and playing off upon each other, not exactly the most
decorous specimens of practical wit.

Roxas looked rather abashed at so unrefined an exhibition of national
manners: Noronha had taken good care to keep aloof, and I regretted not
having followed his example.



LETTER XIV.

     A German Visionary.--Remarkable conversation with him.--History of
     a Ghost-seer.


It is not at every corner of life that we stumble upon an intrinsically
singular character: to-day however, at Noronha’s, I fell in with a Saxon
count,[27] who justly answers to that description. This man is not only
thoroughly imbued with the theoretical mysticism of the German school,
but has most firmly persuaded himself, and hundreds besides, that he
holds converse with the souls of the departed. Though most impressive
and even extravagant upon this subject, when started, he proves himself
a man of singular judgment upon most others, is a good geometrician, an
able chymist, a mineralogist of no ordinary proficiency, and has made
discoveries in the art of smelting metals, which have been turned
already to useful purpose. Yet nothing can beat out of this cool
reflective head, that magical operations may be performed to evident
effect, and the devil most positively evocated.

I thought, at first sight, there was a something uncouth and ghostly in
his appearance, that promised strange communications; he has a careworn
look, a countenance often convulsed with apparently painful twitches,
and a lofty skull, set off with bristling hair, powdered as white as
Caucasus.

Notwithstanding I by no means courted his acquaintance, he was resolved
to make up to me, and dissipate by the smoothest address he could
assume, any prejudices his uncommon cast of features might have
inspired. Drawing his chair close to mine, whilst Noronha and his party
were busily engaged at voltarete, he tried to allure my attention by
throwing out hints of the wonders within reach of a person born under
the smile of certain constellations: that I was the person he meant to
insinuate, I have little doubt. Having heard that fortune had conferred
upon me some few of her golden gifts, he thought, perhaps, that I might
be _fused_ to advantage, like any other lump of the precious metals. Be
his motives what they may, he certainly took as many pains to wind
himself into my good opinion as if I had actually been the prime
favourite of a planet, or a distant cousin by some diabolical
intermarriage, in the style of one of the Plantagenet matches, of old
Beelzebub himself.

After a good deal of conversation upon different subjects, chiefly of a
sombrous nature, happening to ask him if he had known Schröffer, the
most renowned ghost-seer in all Germany,--“Intimately well,” was his
reply; “a bold young man, not so free, alas! from sensual taint as the
awful career he had engaged in demanded,--he rushed upon danger
unprepared, at an unhallowed moment--his fate was terrible. I passed a
week with him not six months before he disappeared in the frightful
manner you have heard of; it was a week of mental toil and suffering, of
fasts and privations of various natures, and of sights sufficiently
appalling to drive back the whole current of the blood from the heart.
It was at this period that, returning one dark and stormy night from
trying experiments upon living animals, more excruciating than any the
keenest anatomist ever perpetrated, I found lying upon my chair, coiled
up in a circle like the symbol of eternity, an enormous snake of a
deadly lead colour; it neither hissed nor moved for several minutes:
during this pause, whilst I remained aghast looking full upon it, a
voice more like the whisper of trees than any sound of human utterance,
articulated certain words, which I have retained, and used to powerful
effect in moments of peril and extreme urgency.”

I shall not easily forget the strange inquisitive look he gave me whilst
making this still stranger communication; he saw my curiosity was
excited, and flattered himself he had made upon me the impression he
meditated; but when I asked, with the tone of careless levity, what
became of the snake on the cushion, after the voice had ceased, he shook
his white locks somewhat angrily, and croaked forth with a formidable
German accent, “Ask no more--ask no more--you are not in a disposition
at present sufficiently pure and serious to comprehend what I _might_
disclose. Ask no more.”--For this time at least I most implicitly obeyed
him.

Promising to call upon me and continue our conversation any day or hour
I might choose to appoint, he glided off so imperceptibly, that had I
been a little more persuaded of the possibility of supernatural
occurrences, I might have believed he had actually vanished. “A good
riddance,” said Noronha; “I don’t half like that man, nor can I make out
why Florida Blanca is so gracious to him.”--“I rather suspect he is a
spy upon us all,” observed the Sardinian ambassadress, who made one of
the voltarete party; “and though he guessed right about the winning card
last night at the Countess of Benevente’s, I am determined not to invite
him to dinner again in a hurry.”



LETTER XV.

     Madame Bendicho.--Unsuccessful search on the Prado.--Kauffman, an
     infidel in the German style.--Mass in the chapel of the
     Virgin.--The Duchess of Alba’s villa.--Destruction by a young
     French artist of the paintings of Rubens.--French ambassador’s
     ball.--Heir-apparent of the house of Medina Celi.


Sunday, Jan. 13th.

Kauffman[28] accompanied me to the Prado this morning, where we met
Madame Bendicho and her faithful Expilly, (a famous tactician in war or
peace,) who told me that somebody I thought particularly interesting was
not far off. This intelligence imparted to me such animation, that
Kauffman was obliged to take long strides to equal my pace. I traversed
the whole Prado without meeting the object of my pursuit, and found
myself almost unconsciously in the court before the ugly front of the
church of Atocha. A tide of devotees carried us into the chapel of the
Virgin, which is hung round with trophies, and ex-voto’s, legs, arms,
and fingers, in wax and plaster.

Kauffman is three parts an infidel in the German style, but I advised
him to kneel with something like Castilian solemnity, and hear out a
mass which was none of the shortest, the priest being old, and much
given to the wiping and adjusting of spectacles, a pair of which,
uncommonly large and lustrous, I thought he would never have succeeded
in fitting to his nose.

We happened to kneel under the shade of some banners which the British
lion was simple enough to let slip out of his paws during the last war.
The colours of fort St. Philip dangled immediately above my head.
Amongst the crowd of Our Lady’s worshippers I espied one of the gayest
of my ball-room acquaintances, the young Duke of Arion, looking like a
strayed sheep, and smiting his breast most piteously.

A tiresome salve regina being ended, I measured back my steps to the
Prado, and at length discovered the person of all others I wished most
to see, strictly guarded by mamma. I accompanied them to their door,
and returned loiteringly and lingeringly home, where I found Infantado,
who had been waiting for me above half an hour. With him I rode out on
the Toledo road to see a pompous bridge, or rather viaduct; for the
river it spans, even in this season, is scarcely copious enough to turn
the model of a mill-wheel, much less the reality.

From this spot we went to a villa lately purchased by the Duchess of
Alba, and which, I was told, Rubens had once inhabited. True enough, we
found a conceited young French artist in the arabesque and cupid line,
busily employed in pouncing out the last memorials in this spot of that
great painter; reminiscences of favourite pictures he had thrown off in
fresco, upon what appeared a rich crimson damask ground. Yes, I
witnessed this vandalish operation, and saw large flakes of stucco
imprinted with the touches of Rubens fall upon the floor, and heard the
wretch who was perpetrating the irreparable act sing, “Veillons mes
sœurs, veillons encorrre,” with a strong Parisian accent, all the
while he was slashing away.

My sweet temper was so much ruffled by this spectacle, that I begged to
be excused any further excursion, and returned home to dress and
compose myself, while Infantado went back to his palace. I soon joined
him, having been invited to dine with his right virtuous and estimable
papa. Thank heaven the rage for Frenchified decoration has not yet
reached this plain but princely abode, which remains in noble Castilian
simplicity, with all its famed pictures untouched and uncontaminated.

As soon as the old duke had retired to his evening’s devotions, we
hurried to the French ambassador’s ball, where I met fewer saints than
sinners, and saw nothing particularly edifying, except the semi-royal
race of the Medina Celis dancing “high and disposedly.” Cogolhudo, the
heir-apparent of this great house, is a good-natured, busy personage,
but his illustrious consort, who has been recently appointed to the
important office of Camerara mayor, or mistress of the robes to the
image of Our Lady of La Soledad, is a great deal less kindly and
affable.[29]



LETTER XVI.

     Visit from the Turkish Ambassador.--Stroll to the gardens of the
     Buen Retiro.--Troop of ostriches.--Madame d’Aranda.--State of
     Cortejo-ism.--Powers of drapery.--Madame d’Aranda’s
     toilet.--Assembly at the house of Madame Badaan.--Cortejos off
     duty.--Blaze of beauty.--A curious group.--A dance.


Sunday, 23rd.

Every morning I have the pleasure of supplying the Grand Signior’s
representative with rolls and brioche, baked at home for my breakfast;
and this very day he came himself in one of the king’s lumbering state
coaches, with some of his special favourites, to thank me for these
piping hot attentions. We had a great deal of conversation about the
marvels of London, though he seemed stoutly convinced that in every
respect Islembul exceeded it ten times over.

As soon as he moved off, I strolled to the gardens of the Buen Retiro,
which contains neither statues nor fountains worth describing. They
cover a vast extent of sandy ground, in which there is no prevailing
upon anything vegetable or animal to thrive, except ostriches, a troop
of which were striding about in high spirits, apparently as much at home
as in their own native parched-up deserts.

Roxas dined with us, and we went together in the evening to the French
ambassador’s, the Duke de la V****. His daughter, a fine young woman of
eighteen or nineteen, is married to the Prince de L****, a smart
stripling, who has scarcely entered his fifteenth year; the ambassador
is no trifling proficient in political intrigue, no common-place twister
and turner in the paths of diplomacy, looks about him with calm and
polished indifference, though full of hazardous schemes and projects;
ever in secret ferment, and a Jesuit to the heart’s core. I could not
help noticing his quiet, observing eye--the still eye of a serpent lying
perdue in a cave. In his address and manners he is quite a model of
high-bred ease, without the slightest tincture of pedantry or
affectation.

Madame la Duchesse is a great deal fonder of fine phrases, which she
does not always reserve for grand occasions. Their son, the Prince de
C***, amused me beyond bounds with his lightning-like flashes of wit and
merriment, at the expense of Madrid and its tertullias. Upon the whole,
I like this family very much, and ardently wish they may like me.

I could not stay with them so long as I desired, Roxas having promised
to present me to Madame d’Aranda, whose devoted friend and _cortejo_ he
has the consummate pleasure to be. Happy the man who has the good
fortune of being attached by such delicious, though not quite strictly
sacred ties, to so charming a little creature; but in general the state
of cortejo-ism is far from enviable. You are the sworn victim of all the
lady’s caprices, and can never move out of the rustle of her black silk
petticoats, or beyond the wave of her fan, without especial permission,
less frequently granted with complacence than refused with asperity. I
imagine she has very good-naturedly given him leave of absence to show
me about this royal village, or else I should think he would hardly
venture to spare me so much of his company.

We found her sitting _en famille_ with her sister, and two young boys
her brothers, over a silver brazier in a snug interior apartment hung
with a bright valencia satin. She showed me the most pleasing marks of
civility and attention, and ordered her own apartments to be lighted up,
that I might see its magnificent furniture to advantage. The bed, of the
richest blue velvet trimmed with point lace, is beautifully shaped, and
placed in a spacious and deep recess hung round with an immense
profusion of ample curtains.

I wonder architects and fitters up of apartments do not avail themselves
more frequently of the powers of drapery. Nothing produces so grand and
at the same time so comfortable an effect. The moment I have an
opportunity I will set about constructing a tabernacle, larger than the
one I arranged at Ramalhaô, and indulge myself in every variety of plait
and fold that can possibly be invented.

Madame d’Aranda’s toilet, designed by Moite the sculptor and executed by
Auguste, is by far the most exquisite _chef-d’œuvre_ of the kind I
ever saw. Poor thing! she has every exterior delight the pomps and
vanities of the world can give; but she is married to a man old enough
to be her grandfather, and looks as pale and drooping as a narcissus or
lily of the valley would appear if stuck in Abraham’s bosom, and
continually breathed upon by that venerable patriarch.

After passing a delightful hour in what appeared to me an ethereal sort
of fairy-land, we went to a far more earthly abode, that of a Madame
Badaan, who is so obliging as to give immense assemblies once or twice a
week, in rather confined apartments. This small, but convenient
habitation, is no idle or unimportant resort for cortejos off duty, or
in search of novel adventures. Several of these disbanded worthies were
lounging about in the mean time, quite lackadaisically. There was a
blaze of beauty in every corner of the room, sufficient to enchant those
the least given to being enchanted; and there frisked the two little
Sabatinis, half Spanish, half Italian, sporting their neatly turned
ankles; and there sat Madame de Villamayor in all her pride, and her
daughters so full of promise; and the Marchioness of Santa Cruz, with
her dark hair and blue eyes, in all her loveliness. How delighted my
friend, the Effendi, must have been upon entering such a paradise, which
he soon did after we arrived there, followed by his Armenian
interpreter, whom I like better than the Greek, Timoni, with his prying,
squirrelish look, and malicious propensities.

The ambassador found me out almost immediately, and taking me to an
angle of the apartment, where a well-cushioned divan had been prepared
for his lollification, made me sit down by him whether I would or not.
We were just settled, when a bevy of young tits dressed out in a
fantastic, blowzy style, with sparkling eyes and streaming ribbons, drew
their chairs round us, and began talking a strange lingua-franca,
composed of three or four different languages. We must have formed a
curious group; I was declaiming and gesticulating with all my might,
reciting scraps of Hafiz and Mesihi, whilst the ladies, none of the
tallest, who were seated on low chairs, kept perking up their pretty
little inquisitive faces in the very beard of the stately Moslem, whose
solemn demeanour formed an amusing contrast to their giddy vivacity.

Madame Badaan and her spouse, the very best people in the world, and the
readiest to afford their company all possible varieties of
accommodation, sent for the most famous band of musicians Madrid could
boast of, and proposed a dance for the entertainment of his bearded
excellency. Accordingly, thirteen or fourteen couples started, and
boleroed and fandangoed away upon a thick carpet for an hour or two,
without intermission. There are scarcely any boarded floors in Madrid,
so the custom of dancing upon rugs is universally established.



LETTER XVII.

     Valley of Aranjuez.--The island garden.--The palace.--Strange
     medley of pictures.--Oratories of the King and the
     Queen.--Destruction of a grand apartment painted in fresco by
     Mengs.--Boundless freedom of conduct in the present
     reign.--Decoration of the Duchess of Ossuna’s house.--Apathy
     pervading the whole Iberian peninsula.


Tuesday, December 1st, 1795.

It was on a clear bright morning (scarce any frost) that we left a
wretched place called Villatoba, falling into ruins like almost all the
towns and villages I have seen in Spain. The sky was so transparent, so
pearly, and the sunbeams so fresh and reviving, that the country
appeared pleasant in spite of its flatness and aridity. Every tree has
been cut down, and all chance of their being replaced precluded by the
wandering flocks of sheep, goats and swine, which rout, and grout, and
nibble uncontrolled and unmolested.

At length, after a tedious drive through vast tracts of desolate
country, scarce a house, scarce a shrub, scarce a human being to meet
with, we descended a rapid declivity, and I once more found myself in
the valley of Aranjuez. The avenues of poplar and plane have shot up to
a striking elevation since I saw them last. The planes on the banks of
the Tagus incline most respectfully towards its waters; they are
vigorously luxuriant, although planted only seven years ago, as the
gardener informed me.

Charles the Fifth’s elms in the island-garden close to the palace are
decaying apace. I visited the nine venerable stumps close to a hideous
brick-ruin; the largest measures forty or fifty feet in girth; the roots
are picturesquely fantastic. The fountains, like the shades in which
they are embowered, are rapidly going to decay: the bronze Venus, at the
fountain which takes its name from Don John of Austria, has lost her
arm.

Notwithstanding the dreariness of the season with all its accompaniment
of dry leaves and faded herbage, this historic garden had still charms;
the air was mild, and the sunbeams played on the Tagus, and many a bird
flitted from spray to spray. Several long alleys of the loftiest elms,
their huge rough trunks mantled with ivy, and their grotesque roots
advancing and receding like grotto-work into the walk, struck me as
singularly pleasing.

The palace has not been long completed; the additions made by Charles
the Third agree not ill with the original edifice. It is a comfortable,
though not a magnificent abode; walls thick, windows cheerfully glazed
in two panels, neat low chimney-pieces in many of the apartments; few
traces of the days of the Philips; scarce any furniture that bespeak an
ancient family. A flimsy modern style, half Italian, half French,
prevails. Even the pictures are, in point of subjects, preservation,
originality, and masters, as strangely jumbled together as in the
dominions of an auctioneer. This may be accounted for by their being
collected indiscriminately by the present King, whilst prince of
Asturias. Amongst innumerable trash, I noticed a Crucifixion by Mengs;
not overburthened with expression, but finely coloured; the back-ground
and sky most gloomily portentous, and producing a grand effect of light
and shade. The interior of a gothic church, by Peter Neef, so fine, so
clear, so silvery in point of tint, as to reconcile me, (for the moment,
at least,) to this harsh, stiff master; the figures exquisite, the
preservation perfect; no varnish, no retouches.

A set of twelve small cabinet pictures, touched with admirable spirit by
Teniers, the subjects taken from the Gierusalemme Liberata, treated as
familiarly as if the boozy painter had been still copying his
pot-companions. Armida’s palace is a little round summer-house; she
herself, habited like a burgher’s frouw in her holiday garments, holds a
Nuremberg-shaped looking-glass up to the broad vulgar face of a boorish
Rinaldo. The fair Naiads, comfortably fat, and most invitingly smirkish,
are naked to be sure, but a pile of furbelowed garments and farthingales
is ostentatiously displayed on the bank of the water; close by a small
table covered with a neat white tablecloth, and garnished with silver
tankards, cold pie, and salvers of custard and jellies. All these vulgar
accessories are finished with scrupulous delicacy.

Several oratories open into the royal apartments. One set apart for the
Queen is adorned with a very costly, and at the same time beautiful
altar, rich, simple, and majestic; not an ornament is lavished in vain.
Two Corinthian columns of a most beautiful purple and white marble,
sustain a pediment, as highly polished and as richly mottled as any
agate I ever beheld; the capitals are bronze splendidly gilt, so is the
foliage of the consoles supporting the slab which forms the altar. The
design, the materials, the workmanship, are all Spanish, and do the
nation credit.

The king’s oratory is much larger, and not ill-designed; the proportion
is good, about twenty-six by twenty-two, and twenty-four high, besides a
solemn recess for the altar. The walls entirely covered with
fresco-painting; saints, prophets, clouds, and angels, in grand
confusion. The sides of the arch, and all the frame of the altar-piece,
are profusely and solidly gilt. A plinth of jasper, and a skirting about
three feet high, of a light-grey marble, streaked with black, not unlike
the capricious ramifications on mocho-stones, and polished as a mirror,
is continued round the room, so that nothing meets the eye but the rich
gleam of gold, painting, and marble, all blended together in one
glowing tint. The pavement, too, of different Spanish marbles, is a
_chef-d’œuvre_ of workmanship. I particularly admired the soft
ivory-hue of the white marble, but my conductor allowed it little merit
when compared with that of Italy: I think him mistaken in this remark,
and heartily wish him so in many others.

This conductor, an old snuffling domestic of the late king, was rather
forward in making his remarks upon times present. A sort of Piedmontese
in my train, I believe the master of the fonda where I lodge, pointing
to a _manege_ now building, asked for whom it was designed, the King or
the Duke d’Alcudia? “For both, no doubt,” was the answer; “what serves
one serves the other.” In the royal tribune, I was informed, with a
woful shrug, that the King, thank God! continued to be exact and fervent
in his devotions; never missing mass a single day, and frequently
spending considerable time in mental prayer; but that the Queen was
scandalously remiss, and seldom appeared in the chapels, except when
some slender remains of etiquette render her presence indispensable.

The chapel, repaired after designs of Sabbatini, an old Italian
architect, much in favour with Charles the Third, has merit, and is
remarkable for the just distribution of light, which produces a solemn
religious effect. The three altars are noble, and their paintings good.
One in particular, on the right, dedicated to St. Anthony, immediately
attracted my attention by the effulgence of glory amidst which the
infant Jesus is descending to caress the kneeling saint, whose attitude,
and youthful, enthusiastic countenance, have great expression. The
colouring is warm and harmonious; Maella is the painter.

I inquired after a remarkable room in this palace, called in the plan
_Salon de los Funciones_, and vulgarly _el Coliseo_. The ceiling was
painted by Mengs, and esteemed one of his capital works: here Ferdinand
and Barbara, the most musical of sovereigns, used to melt in ecstasies
at the soft warblings of Farinelli and Egiziello--but, alas! the scene
of their amusements, like themselves and their warblers, is no more.
Not later than last summer, this grand theatrical apartment was divided
into a suite of shabby, bandboxical rooms for the accommodation of the
Infant of Parma. No mercy was shown to the beautiful roof. In some
places, legs and folds of drapery are still visible; but the workmen are
hammering and plastering at a great rate, and in a few days whitewash
will cover all.

Coming out of the palace, and observing how deserted and melancholy the
walks, garden, and avenues appeared, I was told, that in a few weeks a
total change would take place, for the court was expected on the 6th of
January, to remain six months, and that every pleasure followed in its
train. Shoals of gamblers, and ladies of easy virtue of all ranks, ages,
and descriptions. Every barrier which Charles the Third, of chaste and
pious memory, attempted to oppose to the wanton inclinations of his
subjects, has been broken down in the present reign; boundless freedom
of conduct prevails, and the most disgusting debauchery riots in these
lovely groves, which deserve to be set apart for elegant and rural
pleasures.

In my walks I passed a huge edifice lately built for the favourite
Alcudia. Common report accuses it of being more magnificently furnished
than the royal residence; but as I did not enter it, I shall content
myself with noting down, that it boasts nineteen windows in front, and a
plain Tuscan portal with handsome granite pillars. Adjoining is a house
belonging to the Duchess of Ossuna, full of workmen, painters, and
stuccadors: a goggle-eyed Milanese, most fiercely conceited, is daubing
the walls with all his might and main. He is an architect too, at least
I have his word for it, and claims the merit, a great one as he
believes, of having designed a sort of ball-room, with many a festoon
and Bohemian glass-chandelier and coarse arabesque. The floor is
bricked, upon which thick mats or carpets are spread when dancing is
going forward.

I was in hopes this tiresome custom of thumping mats and rugs with the
feet, to the brisk airs of boleros and fandangos, was exploded. No music
is more inspiring than the Spanish; what a pity they refuse themselves
the joy of rising a foot or two into the air at every step, by the help
of elastic boards.

Next to this sort of a ball-room is a sort of an oval boudoir, and then
a sort of an octagon; all bad sorts of their kind. This confounded
painter is covering the oval with landscapes, not half so harmonious or
spirited as those which figure on Birmingham snuff-boxes or tea-boards.
He has a terrible partiality to blues and greens of the crudest tints.
Such colours affect my eyes as disagreeably as certain sounds my teeth,
when set on edge. I pity the Duchess of Ossuna, whose liberal desire of
encouraging the arts deserves better artists. In music she has been more
fortunate: Boccharini directed her band when I was last at Madrid; and I
remember with what transport she heard and applauded the Galli, to whom
she sent one morning a present of the most expensive trinkets,
carelessly heaped up upon a magnificent salver of massive silver, two or
three feet in diameter.

The day closed as I was wandering about the Duchess’s mansion, surprised
at the slovenly neglect of the furniture, not an article of which has
been moved out of the reach of dust, scaffoldings, the exhalations of
paint, and the still more pestilential exhalation of garlick-eating
workmen. Universal apathy and indifference to everything seems to
pervade the whole Iberian peninsula. If not caring what you eat or what
you drink is a virtue, so far the evangelical precept is obeyed. So it
is in Portugal, and so it is in Spain, and so it looks likely to be
world without end: to which, let the rest of Europe say amen; for were
these countries to open their long-closed eyes, cast off their trammels,
and rouse themselves to industry, they would soon surpass their
neighbours in wealth and population.



LETTER XVIII.

     Explore the extremities of the Calle de la Reyna.--Destructive rage
     for improvement.--Loveliness of the valley of
     Aranjuez.--Undisturbed happiness of the animals
     there.--Degeneration of the race of grandees.--A royal cook.


Wednesday, Dec. 2nd, 1795.

It was near eleven before a thick fog, which had arisen from the groves
and waters of Aranjuez, dispersed. I took advantage of a bright sunshine
to issue forth on horseback, and explore the extremities of the Calle de
la Reyna. Most of the ancient elms which compose this noble avenue, are
dead-topped, many have lost their flourishing heads since I was last
here, but on every side innumerable plantations of oak, elm, poplar, and
plane, are springing up in all the vigour and luxuriance of youth. I was
sorry to see many, very many acres of unmeaning shrubbery, serpentine
walks, and clumps of paltry flowers, encroaching upon the wild thickets
upon the banks of the Tagus.

The King, the Queen, the favourite, are bitten by the rage of what they
fancy to be improvement, and are levelling ground, and smoothing banks,
and building rock-work, with pagodas and Chinese-railing. The laburnums,
weeping-willows, and flowering shrubs, which I admired so much seven
years ago in all their native luxuriance, are beginning to be trimmed
and tortured into what the gardener calls genteel shapes. Even the
course of the Tagus has been thwarted, and part of its waters diverted
into a broad ditch in order to form an island; flat, swampy, and dotted
over with exotic shrubs, to make room for which many a venerable arbele
and poplar has been laid low.

Hard by stands a large brick mansion, just erected, in the dullest and
commonest Spanish taste, very improperly called Casa del Labrador. It
has nothing rural about it, not even a hen-roost or a hog-sty; but the
kitchen is snug and commodious, and to this his Catholic Majesty often
resorts, and cooks with his own royal hands, and for his own royal
self, creadillas, (alias lamb’s fry,) garlick-omelets, and other savoury
messes, in the national style.

Nothing delights the good-natured monarch so much as a pretence for
descending into low life, and creeping out of the sight of his court,
his council, and his people; therefore Madrid is almost totally
abandoned by him, and many capricious buildings are starting up in every
secluded corner of the royal parks and gardens. This last is the ugliest
and most unmeaning of all. I recollect being pleased with the casinos he
built whilst Prince of Asturias, at the Escurial and the Pardo. His
present advisers, in matters of taste, are inferior even to those who
direct his political movements; and the workmen, who obey the first,
still more unskilful and bungling than the generals, admirals, and
engineers, who carry the plans of the latter into execution.

If they would but let Aranjuez alone, I should not care. Nature has
lavished her charms most bountifully on this valley; the wild hills
which close it in, though barren, are picturesquely-shaped; the Tagus
here winds along in the boldest manner, overhung by crooked willows and
lofty arbeles; now losing itself in almost impervious thickets, now
under-mining steep banks, laying rocks bare, and forming irregular coves
and recesses; now flowing smoothly through vast tracts of low shrubs,
aspens, and tamarisks; in one spot edged by the most delicate
greensward, in another by beds of mint and a thousand other fragrant
herbs. I saw numerous herds of deer bounding along in full enjoyment of
pasture and liberty; droves of horses, many of a soft cream-colour, were
frisking about under some gigantic alders; and I counted one hundred and
eighty cows, of a most remarkable size, in a green meadow, ruminating in
peace and plenty.

The animal creation at Aranjuez seem, undoubtedly, to enjoy all the
blessings of an excellent government. The breed is peculiarly attended
to, and no pains or expense spared, to procure the finest bulls from
every quarter. Cows more beautifully dappled, more comfortably sleek, I
never beheld.

If the race of grandees could, by judicious crossing, be sustained as
successfully, Spain would not have to lament her present scurvy,
ill-favoured generation of nobility. Should they be suffered to dwindle
much longer, and accumulate estates and diseases by eternal
intermarriages in the same family, I expect to see them on all-fours
before the next century is much advanced in its course. These little
men, however, are not without some sparks of a lofty, resolute spirit;
very few, indeed, have bowed the knee to the Baal of the present hour,
to the image which the King has set up. A train of eager, hungry
dependants, picked out of inferior and foreign classes, form the company
of the Duke of Alcudia. Notwithstanding his lofty titles, unbounded
wealth, solid power, and dazzling magnificence, he is treated by the
first class with silent contempt and passive indifference. They read the
tale of his illustrious descent with the same sneering incredulity, as
the patents and decrees which enumerate the services he has done the
state. Few instances, perhaps, are upon record, of a more steady,
persevering contempt of an object in actual power, stamped with every
ornament royal favour can devise to give it credit, value, and currency.

A thousand interesting reflections arising from this subject crowded my
mind as I rode home through the stately and now deserted alleys of
Aranjuez. The weather was growing chill, and the withered leaves began
to rustle. I was glad to take refuge by a blazing fire. Money, which
procures almost everything, had not failed to seduce the best salads and
apples from the royal gardens, admirable butter and good game; so I
feasted royally, though I dare say I should have done more so, in the
most extensive sense of the word, could some supernatural power or
Frenchified revolution have procured me the royal cook. His Majesty, I
am assured, by those I am far from suspecting of flattery, has real
talents for this most useful profession.

The comfortable listlessness which had crept over me was too pleasant to
be shaken off, and I remained snug by my fireside the whole evening.

THE END.

LONDON: PRINTED BY SAMUEL BENTLEY, Dorset Street, Fleet Street.

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

headach and indisposition=> headache and indisposition {pg v1 185}

so wan and singugular=> so wan and singular {pg v1 201}

into some inchanted cave=> into some enchanted cave {pg v1 231}

suprising variety of other plants=> surprising variety of other plants
{pg v1 351}

The shubberies and garden=> The shrubberies and garden {pg v2 182}

ton at present in this court=> tone at present in this court {pg v2 240}

statu quo=> status quo {pg v2 243}

Nuestra Senora=> Nuestra Señora {pg v2 286}

       *       *       *       *       *


FOOTNOTES:

[1] This crucifix was made of the bronze which had formed the statue of
the terrible Duke of Alva, swept in its first form from the citadel
where it was proudly stationed, in a moment of popular fury.

[2] The History of John Bull explains this ridiculous appellation.

[3] Hills in the neighbourhood of Canton.

[4] Apuleius Met: Lib. 5.

    Vehementer iterum ac sæpius beatos illos qui
    Super gemmas et monilia calcant!


[5] Schönberg, beautiful mountain.

[6] Ariosto Orlando Furioso.--_Canto 7, stanza 32._

[7] A nephew of Bertoni, the celebrated composer.

[8] This excellent and highly cultivated woman died at Naples in August
1782. Had she lived to a later period her example and influence might
probably have gone great lengths towards arresting that tide of
corruption and profligacy which swept off this ill-fated court to
Sicily, and threatened its total destruction.

[9] Mem. pour la Vie de Petrarque, vol. i. p. 439.

[10] The Piscina mirabilis.

[11] See Letter VII.

[12] See Miss Williams’s poems.

[13] Since Marquis of Abrantes.

[14] Writers of travels are sadly given to exaggeration. The author of
the Tableau du Lisbonne writes, “Il est dix heures, une foule de P. de
Ch. s’avance,” &c. From such an account one would suppose the whole line
of houses in motion. No such thing. At intervals, to be sure, some
accidents of this sort, more or less, slily occur; but by no means in so
general and evident a manner.

[15] These affecting tones seem to have made a lasting impression indeed
upon the heart of a young man, one of the principal clerks in the
Secretary of State’s office; he was all admiration, all ardour, his
divinity all indifference. After a long period of unavailing courtship,
the poor lover, driven to absolute despair, made a donation of all he
was worth in the world to the object of his adoration, and threw himself
into the Tagus. Providentially he was fished out and brought home, pale
and almost inanimate. Such a spectacle, accompanied by so vivid a proof
of unlimited passion, had its effect. The lady relented, they were
united, and are as happy at this day, I believe, as the recollection of
so narrow an escape, and its cause, can make them.

[16] An old English housekeeper.

[17] For no light specimen of these atrocities, see Southey’s Letters
from Spain and Portugal.

[18] Don Joaô da Valperra.

[19] At the time I wrote this, half Lisbon believed in the individuality
of the holy crows, and the other half prudently concealed their
scepticism.

[20] Don Josè, elder brother of the late king, John VI.

[21] Dryden.

[22] The royal chapel of the Ajuda, though somewhat fallen from the
unequalled splendour it boasted during the sing-song days of the late
king, Don Joseph, still displayed some of the finest specimens of vocal
manufacture which Italy could furnish. It possessed, at the same time,
Carlo Reina, Ferracuti, Totti, Fedelino, Ripa, Gelati, Venanzio,
Biagino, and Marini--all these _virtuosi_, with names ending in vowels,
were either _contraltos_ of the softest note, or _sopranos_ of the
highest squeakery.

[23] Now Marquis of Tancos.

[24] About the period of the present king’s accession, several ladies of
this description had bounced into the peerage; but as they did not walk
at the coronation, somebody observed, it was odd enough that the
peeresses best accustomed to a free use of their limbs, declined
stirring a step upon this occasion. Horace Walpole mentions this bon mot
in some of his letters; I forget to whom he attributes it.

[25] The personage in question paid dearly for having listened to evil
counsellors and exciting the suspicions of the church. In about a
twelvemonth after this conversation, the small pox, not attended to so
skilfully as it might have been, was suffered to carry him off, and
reduced his imperious widow to a mere cipher in the politics of a court
she had begun very successfully to agitate. To this period the cruel
distress of the queen’s mind may be traced. The conflict between
maternal tenderness and what she thought political duty, may be supposed
with much greater probability to have produced her fatal derangement,
than all the scruples respecting the Aveiro and Tavoura confiscations
which the fanatical, interested priest, who succeeded my excellent
friend, excited.

[26] A well-known wily diplomatist, afterwards ambassador at
Constantinople.

[27] He resided afterwards at Paris in a diplomatic character, and is
supposed to have been implicated in some of the least amiable events of
the revolution. A mysterious passage in the first volume of Soulavie’s
Memoirs is said to refer to him. He was particularly intimate with
citizen Egalité.

[28] A nephew of the famous Angelica, and no indifferent painter
himself.

[29] I have seen a beautiful portrait, engraved by Selma, of this image,
and dedicated in due form to its first lady of the dressing-room,
Marchioness of Cogolhudo, Duchess of San Estévan, &c.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Italy; with sketches of Spain and Portugal" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home