תמונות בעמוד
[ocr errors][merged small]

work of ornament, and the flying buttresses are covered with vines carved in bas-relief, twining about and clinging to them, through the foliage of which peep out the faces of innumerable angels and seraphs. The clustering of figures on the walls is, if any thing, too thick ; the eye becomes wearied, not finding a single unoccupied spot whereon to rest. The architecture preserved in the doors and windows is Gothic, but the sculpture and ornament are unique. The whole has somewhat the colour of reddish blotting paper, being formed of a description of sandstone very liable to be destroyed by atmospheric influence. A poor priest, still retaining the broad-brimmed hat and threadbare russet habiliments of his order, sat begging at the door ; he, however, was not permitted to enter within the precincts of what had formerly been his home, and had belonged to his once powerful order, and he looked wistfully through the gates as they closed behind us.

In the interior, the crowded ornament was abandoned, and gave place to a chasteness and simplicity of decoration designed in the most perfect taste. Six pillars of grey polished marble on each side formed the aisle : these reared their exceedingly tall, slender shafts aloft, and branching at top into the form of a palm, spread out their broad thin foliage to support a roof of matchless elegance. The pulpit, like the pillars, was of grey marble, and covered with the same elaborate lacework. The whole church is a splendid specimen of arabesque, and strikes the beholder as being the product of enchantment rather than the work of mortal hands. I had almost forgotten to mention the altar, on which stands the tabernacle, celebrated by all travellers as being one of the largest pieces of plate in existence, at least six feet square ; it is of silver, beautifully wrought in the most delicate filigree, but now much tarnished. Behind the altar is the vault, containing the tomb of the unfortunate Alfonzo the Sixth. With much difficulty I persuaded the sexton to open the vault. We descended, and great indeed was the old man's amazement at my unceremoniously removing the lid of the large trunk-shaped coffin. The dryness of the atmosphere has preserved his body in great perfection, evaporating the fluids, and leaving the flesh and skin black, shrivelled, and adhering to the bones ; the lips being retracted from this cause, exposed the teeth, which were white and in the finest preservation. The head was small, and the forehead narrow, retreating

[merged small][ocr errors]

and unintellectual. He was dressed in his robes of state, profusely ornamented, with a rich embroidered cap on his head, and round all was wrapped a fine muslin robe, spangled with gold. On each side of him are deposited an Infanta of Portugal, his children. The tomb of Don Manuel, who raised this beauteous pile, in honour and commemoration of the voyage and achievements of Vasco de Gama in the New World, stands on the left of the altar—it is hewn out of an enormous block of black marble, highly polished, and is of great elegance of design and workmanship.

Before leaving Lisbon, we must visit St. Roch, which embodies all that is curious and beautiful in the city; it is now very difficult of access, but well repays all the trouble expended in gaining admission. The general appearance of the interior of this church offers little to comment upon. The roof and walls are gaudily painted—the latter embellished with pilasters, and crowded with altars in white marble, inlaid with bronze, more curious than beautiful; but the grand object of attraction, the famous altar of St. John, stands in a recess to the left, and is concealed from view by a rich crimson curtain, removed, for the inspection of the public, only on one day in the year—the feast of St. John. We were conducted through a dark narrow gallery, and having been led opposite the altar, the curtain was slowly withdrawn; and then such a sight! After standing in silent admiration some minutes, “Oh, how very grand !” burst involuntarily from all present. It is a perfect gem in mosaic, where all the splendid marbles of the Peninsula are displayed with the most skilful arrangement. We stood in a small chamber, railed off from the rest of the church; the massive doors on either side through which we entered were of burnished brass, and of most exquisite open-work ; the walls were encrusted with dark marble, from which stand out, in clusters, pillars of polished marble, judiciously contrasted with pilasters of a darker hue placed behind. The capitals are of the Corinthian order, and wrought in brass like those of the ThronSaal at Munich, as 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, produces 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 tall slender pillars : the

[blocks in formation]

floor is mosaiced in a rich carpet pattern; and at the farther end stands the altar, a single block of lapis lazuli of immense size, flanked by pillars of the same precious material, resting on porphyry steps, its upper border being 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 one's self they are not oil and canvas; they 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 most unqualified 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, Justi; it was executed at Rome, and cost a sum much greater than is to be found in the treasury of Portugal at 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. Should any 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 was 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 the lanceolated Gothic architecture in Portugal. 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 noble ruin it would be considered in England ! Here, it is a filthy saw-pit, half filled with dirt and rubbish, and the top of the splendid doorway is now 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

[merged small][ocr errors]

kisses this cross shall have an indulgence of many days.” The reverence once paid to it was such as absolutely to wear away the stone with kisses; 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 in order to obtain a view of it.

I may with justice sum up a description of this city 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 stenches 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 which fully accounts for the decrease 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 blondes, yet 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 beauti

[ocr errors][merged small]

ful fountains spread about the city, and the water is conveyed from house to house, in small barrels, by the Spanish water-carriersthe Galegos—hundreds of whom swarm round every fountain, and form the most interesting groups to be met with. They are all Galicians, 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 to the city by the famous aqueduct, a distance of many miles ; and, where it crosses the valley of Alcantara, a short way outside the suburb, it 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,) on a duct of thirty-five arches, measuring 2873 feet. 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 103 miles ; it is built of grey marble, and looks as clean and sharp as if constructed but yesterday. On either side of the water-way, there is a foot-path, broad enough for two to walk abreast between it and the parapet, which is barely breast high. 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.

This walk is the scene of frequent robberies, as few would like to wrestle on so slight a footing, and over such a depth, with a Portuguese bravo. While looking over the highest part, and remarking the diminutive appearance of the people in the valley, my guide told me it was the favourite resort of suicides, who came to fling themselves over the parapet, and the spot is certainly most inviting to those tired of life, and willing to rush into certain and immediate destruction. The view from the top does

« הקודםהמשך »