תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

The parochial clergy, the only ones permitted here, have little influence over the people; and it is a singular fact, that so far from assisting the monks, when driven from their homes, they refused them the necessaries of life, or the shelter of a cottage roof; and this to men before whom they had so lately knelt, and who exercised over them a spiritual tyranny tolerated or known in no other country. What, it may be asked, has become of such a large body of men, who had no trade, and are prohibited from following their profession? It is not to be expected that persons like these, reared in luxury, and living on the bucks of Mafra, and the wines of Collares, could support themselves on two pistarines a day, and it cannot be said of them, as of the unjust steward, that by their liberality they made for themselves “friends of the mammon of

of unrighteousness. Most of them have left Portugal; many will be found under the banners of Don Carlos, having exchanged the church quiescent for the church militant; and not a few in Great Britain, perhaps within the walls of Stoneyhurst, or Clongowes.

We returned through Collares, a deserted village, its fountains dry, and quintas uninhabited, the present state of politics making their noble owners exiles. We rested ourselves at a cool wine-shop, and enjoyed a glass of the light claret which takes its name from this place. It is a thin, rough wine,

72

PALACE OF CINTRA.

agreeable in flavour, and weak enough to be drunk in tumblers the vin ordinaire of this part of the country.

We took the lower road on our return, and enjoyed the magnificent view of the scenery along the wooded sides of the mountains through which we passed. With the exception of the lovely lemon and orange groves, the foliage of Portugal has not the green and refreshing tint of that of England, nor can it boast the glowing, mellow hues of our autumnal landscapes, as the green has a rusty, brownish appearance, like the dingy olive. Quantities of those picturesque and noble trees, the stone pine, grow upon the heights, and their seed is much used as food by the poorer classes. The children collect the cones and beat them with mallets, till the seed drops out; these are boiled soft or pounded in mortars, and used as beans are in other countries.

17th. We rose in the morning and visited the far-famed palace of Cintra-an immense building in the Moorish style, all the pillars and window-frames being twisted and much covered with fret-work—the latter completely spoiled, however, by immense heavy green sashes. It presents a confused jumble of courts and terraces ; and although composed of innumerable apartments, has hardly one good room. The hall of swans, so called from having the likeness of that bird framed in every panel, of wall and ceiling, is of goodly size and proportion. It is exceeding well supplied with

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

The queen

water, having fountains, jets, and tanks, of every possible form ; the latter filled with gold and silver fish. Amongst the rooms is one rather striking, to which may be given the name of magpiehall; the roof is a kind of dome, in panels, each containing the representation of a magpie holding a rose in his claw, entwined in a ribbon, on which are the words " por ben," “ for good.” The story connected with it is, that a certain king was discovered by his queen

in this

very room kissing one of the maids of honour, who held a magpie on her arm; on seeing her majesty he exclaimed, “ poor ben,” the Portuguese “honi soit.” withdrew; but on the king's leaving for Lisbon, a few days after, she had this room thus decorated against his return. The floors are of brick work, and the walls, for about one-third of their height, are covered with delf tiles. A small chamber, tiled completely over, is shown as that in which Don Sebastian held his last council before his illfated African expedition.

Our guide next conducted us to a small attic room, where, assuming a most rueful aspect, he informed us, that Don Alfonzo the VI. was imprisoned by his queen for upwards of nine years, unfit to rule his kingdom or his wife. The whole of the flooring, except where stood his pallet, is worn by the footsteps of the poor captive. The only other object worth mentioning is what we may call the hall of stags—the panels in the walls and

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

dome of this handsome apartment have each a stag painted in the centre, with a shield hung from its neck, on which are emblazoned the arms of some one of the nobility of Portugal, bearing the crest between the horns. The devices of the princes of the blood royal form the upper range ; and below, the wall represents a stag hunt in blue tile. As the poor queen is not now allowed to enjoy the sweets of this beautiful retreat, the whole has gone much out of repair, and the furniture is hardly fit for a plain English gentleman.

Most of the English residents have houses at Cintra. A pic-nic was got up to-day, to which we were kindly invited. The rendezvous was one of the quintas a few miles off, and thither we now bent our steps, accompanied by three “cheeping middies,” that morning let loose from their wooden prisons in the Tagus. Our walk lay by Montserrat-formerly the princely mansion of Beckford ; now mouldering in ruins. It was an exceedingly elegant and tasteful building, quite in the English style ; not a vestige of its roof now remains; and within, the bramble, the thorn and thistle flourish in undisturbed luxuriance. A few short years more, and a guide will have to lead the traveller to the spot where the eccentric author of Vathic held his court. It is a most romantic spot, commanding in its prospect every beauty that Cintra and the surrounding country affords. The lofty tree-clad mountains behind, the undulating cultivated

STATE OF SOCIETY.

75

plain before ; in the distance, the illimitable sea ; and around, groves of the finest orange and lemon trees, force an exclamation of rapture, sadly qualified by regret at the utter destruction to which this most lovely of retreats is fast hastening. On the western turret still stands the flag-staff from which the silken banner of old England so often fluttered in the breeze; it seemed conscious of the dignity it once possessed, and in defiance of the ruin going on around, was determined to “ spin it out and fight it to the last.” One of the largest Tangerine orange trees in Portugal flourishes in the lawn, and clumps of arbutus, not to be surpassed by even those of our own dear Killarney, border the ravine that separates the demesne from the hills behind; but scarcely a vestige of the walks and pleasure-grounds remain. Our pic-nic went off as well as meals of that comfortless description generally do; dancing followed; and having seen the ladies safely mounted on their donkeys, we strolled quietly home by moonlight.

The principal society in this part of the country is English, as the Portuguese aristocracy are either beggars or exiles; and the few who do not come under this description decline society from disgust at the unceremonious deprivation of the power and honors they had so long exclusively enjoyed. On this account strangers see little of Portuguese manners or society, and what they do see is generally at the houses of the English residents. We experienced much kindness from my friend and relative Major-General Sir R. Ousley.

« הקודםהמשך »