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56

THE ALTAR OF ST. ROCH.

are also the pedestals. The grouping of jasper, verde-antique, porphyry, Gibraltar stone, and many other marbles of the most beautiful colours, in the different columns, produced the most delightful and imposing effect. Above, the canopied roof, panelled in dark marble, is supported by white cherubs, standing as if about to take wing from the pillars: the floor is mosaiced in a rich carpet pattern; and at the farther end stands the altar, a single block of lapis lazuli of great size, flanked by pillars of the same precious material, resting on three porphyry steps. Its upper border is inlaid with a row of brilliant amethysts. But we must hasten to the grand magnets, the three mosaic pictures—the centre or altar-piece is the baptism of our Saviour in the Jordan, after Michael Angelo ; the figures are as large as life, and are copied with such fidelity, that the hand is involuntarily stretched forth to assure yourself they are not oil and canvas.

The figures are brought out in the most beautiful and natural relief; and the whole, particularly the reflection of the Saviour's feet in the running water, are given with such truth as to fill the spectator with the utmost admiration. Those on the sides are the Annunciation, after Raphael, and the Conception, after Guido.

Two large and costly candelabra of silver-gilt, stand before the altar. The whole is the workmanship of the celebrated Italian artist, Justi. It was executed at Rome, and cost a sum much greater than is to be found in the treasury of Portugal at

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this moment. I feel I cannot do this splendid work the justice it deserves; but I know I am reminding those who have seen it of a great treat. of my readers be in Lisbon, and pressed for time, let them sacrifice all else to see St. John's chapel at St. Roch and Belem Cathedral. This altar

one of the objects which the spoliating hand of Junot had selected to grace the French capital, but for the timely interference of the English.

Of the buildings destroyed by the earthquake in ’55, some fine ruins still remain ; among the rest, the Carmo, which crowns one of the seven hills of Lisbon, and forms a striking object from the parterres of the Rua St. Roch. It was the finest specimen of architecture in Portugal—the lanceolated gothic. One is lost in amazement to see the row of tall, thin, clustering pillars, which divide the nave and aisle, still standing, while the roof was utterly destroyed, and many of the walls shaken to their foundation. What a ruin it would be in England! Here it is a filthy saw-pit, half filled with dirt and rubbish, and the top of the splendid doorway nearly on a level with the street. Beside the door is an inscription, stating it to have been consecrated by bishop Ambrosia, in 1523, and beneath this is a small cross, under which is a notice, purporting that " whoever kissed this cross should have an indul. gence of many days”—the reverence once paid to it was such as to wear away the stone with kisses

58

DESCRIPTION OF THE CITY.

while now the mud of one of the filthiest streets in Lisbon so covers it that I was obliged to poke away this nuisance with a stick to obtain a view of it.

I may with justice sum up a description of this place in the faithful and energetic lines applied to Cologne by Coleridge, whose name will soften down the asperities that might otherwise grate on ears polite

A town of monks and bones,
And pavements fanged with murderous stones,
And rags, and hags, and hideous wenches-
I counted two and seventy stenches.”

In a word, the city is worthy of a people degraded by ignorance and the grossest superstition. Were I asked for a description of Portuguese character, I would say, it was one partaking of every bad quality belonging to a native of the Peninsula, without one of those redeeming virtues, which, in some degree, render interesting and valuable the character of their neighbours.

I would rather turn to the sunny side of the picture, and conduct the reader to any thing worth seeing, without his being assailed by any of the thousand and one stinks of Lisbon. By the way, talking of the sunny side of the picture, I may observe that the sunny side of the streets may be always known by the number of those prehensile operations going forward in the windows of both rich and poor, and fully accounting for the decrease

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of the monkey tribe, since the days of Beckford, when they were hired out to perform those little offices upon the head that filial piety now takes

upon itself.

The women do not dress so neatly as those in Corunna, and are but little better looking ; many being blonds, retaining a Spanish cast of countenance, by no means improving. The costume of both sexes is more mixed, and not so national as that we had lately seen.

The heads of all the females are enveloped in immense thin muslin handkerchiefs, puffed out to about two feet square at the top, and not inaptly resembling the hoods occasionally worn at funerals in our own country. The rest of the figure is completely enveloped in a long, dark brown mantle.

Lisbon is well supplied with water, from the numerous beautiful fountains spread about the city, and the water is conveyed from house to house, in small barrels, by the Spanish water-carriers--the Gallegos-hundreds of whom swarm round every fountain, and form the most interesting groups to be met with. They are Gallicians, and although the water is sold for about a farthing a barrel, many have been known to amass sums large enough to enable them to purchase estates on returning to their native country. They are remarkable for their honesty; and the hardships they undergo are extraordinary; many sleeping in the open air round their fountains at night. The water is conducted

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by the famous aqueduct, a distance of many miles ; and, where it crosses the valley of Alcantara, a short way outside the city, is certainly one of the finest objects in Portugal. The first view of it in this place disappoints ; but on a longer inspection, you become gradually impressed with its true and immense proportions. The water is conducted over the deep ravine, through which a rapid torrent, now dry, runs in the winter, measuring 2873 feet, on a duct of thirty-five arches. These arches are some of them round, some of them lanceolated: the height of the central one from the water-course below is 226 feet, and its breadth 108 feet. One may form a faint idea of its elevation and span, by knowing that the largest ship of the line, in full sail, could pass under it. The whole length, from the source at Canessas to Lisbon, is 56,300 feet, or 10 miles. It is built of ble, and looks as clean and sharp as if constructed but yesterday. Those arches support the water-way, on either side of which is a foot-path, broad enough for two to walk abreast between it and the parapet. In the centre are two water-channels, each 18 inches broad, one of which is closed each alternate year, for the purposes of cleansing and repair. They are roofed in, ventilated by numerous gratings, and surmounted by a handsome turret over every second arch. The parapet is barely breast high. This walk is the scene of frequent robberies, as few would like to wrestle on so slight a

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