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been from almbe battlement about a few hour came upon the
not so much please as astonish you ; it is only while standing below, and at a little distance, that the grandeur of this stupendous pile breaks fully on the senses. In this situation, when looking up the valley through those stupendous arches, you behold its deep gorge and precipitous sides crowded with orange groves, quintas, and windmills, and a prospect presents itself seldom to be equalled in loveliness; the mingled effect of light and shade, mellowed by the declining sun, that throws the shadow of the neighbouring heights across the vale, deepening the green of the different plantations, and again lightly reflected by the redtiled houses on the road to Cintra, produces a combination of natural and artificial beauty of the rarest description.
One object, and one alone, shed a gloom over the face of smiling nature. As we turned through one of the arches, to examine some plants at a little distance, we suddenly came upon the corpse of a man, who had but a few hours before thrown himself from the battlement above; and accustomed as I have been from almost childhood to view death in every shape and form that lingering disease, or the murderous hand of man can make loathsome, it shall never fade from my recollection, the view of that haggard, horror-stricken face, on which despair and desperation were still marked, in the fixed look and convulsed feature. He was lying on his back, with the head down hill, and he could not have made the slightest struggle, as the clay was soft, and he lay imbedded in it. He appeared above the lower order, was well dressed, and his clothing, even to his shoes, was perfectly new—a practice common to suicides here. The body was not mangled, though the fall was so great, and his hair, sprinkled with gray, and bespeaking some forty winters, was thrown off a fine and wellformed forehead; but approaching decomposition was already beginning to clear away the wrinkles that had settled on his brow. The sun had thrown the shadow of one of the pillars across where he lay, for although shining equally upon the just and the unjust, it appeared as if disdaining to shed its lustre, or throw one bright beam of hope upon that loathsome, stiffening carcase. I was about touching it, to discover what injury had been sustained, but was prevented by my guide, who assured me that certain imprisonment would follow. A few yards off sat a group of men and boys, lounging idly in the sun, who
treated the matter with perfect indifference, from its every-day occurrence here.
This was the scene of contention during the late civil struggle. The lines of Lisbon, on which people were still at work, ran just above. Although the cottages and buildings in the immediate neighbourhood bear the marks of the recent conflict in their shattered walls and roofs, I was delighted to find that not a single ball had touched the aqueduct.
We visited the dock-yard and arsenal ; in the former was one ship, on the stocks for so many years, that they have put in three new sets of timbers already, and are now negociating a loan of £300 for a further repair! Their naval officers are educated in a model ship, placed in the arsenal. How are the mighty fallen !-think of the days when the Portuguese navy was the terror of the world, and her mariners added rich store of knowledge to their children, and incalculable wealth to their coffers.
The markets of Lisbon, particularly those for fruit and fish, are well supplied ; haiks and dog-fish are caught in great numbers in the Tagus, and much used for food, but dories and mullet are the favourites. Some of the finest muscatel grapes are to be found here; several that I weighed were above 170 grains each!
The bull-fights, in honour of the royal birth, were over before we arrived ; but all were hastening to Campo Grande, a fair held a few miles from town, to eat roast chesnuts and pork chops. It was, we understood, but a stupid place, without show or amusement, so we made better use of our time by visiting Cintra, the Brighton of Portugal.
The immense suburbs through which we passed, showed Lisbon to be a city of much larger size than from the sea we should be inclined to suspect. The roads, paved with enormous blocks of limestone, are execrable ; the carriages have no springs, and are worse appointed than the vilest London cab. Shade of M'Adam ! had you been qualified for purgatory, you surely would have been sent to jolt out your period on the Cintra road. The seats of the nobility in the neighbourhood of Lisbon are little better than English farm-houses, with one exception, the delightful residence of the Baron Quintilla, a great friend of the queen, who has every thing about him fitted up in English style. The
VISIT TO CINTRA.
country along the road presents the greatest sameness; its brown aspect, without a single spot to relieve the eye, renders the drive · of fifteen miles for the most part uninteresting and monotonous. Not a hedge-row is to be seen, and but a few vines and dingy olives, with the agave or American aloe, which grows in great luxuriance, bordering the roads and enclosures. The country appears to be but thinly populated, and the only objects in the landscape are the water-towers, and numerous small aqueducts, all running towards the valley of Alcantara. As we approached Cintra, the air became much cooler, and that noble mountain concentrated all our admiration, its rugged outline being exhibited in the sharpest relief against a back-ground of the most gorgeous purple, which marked the setting glories of the god of day.
While yet some miles from our journey's end, our sorry nags got blown, and the sable postillion regaled them with bread steeped in wine; and then remounting, plied whip and spur with an energy that would have awakened the spirit of Dick Martin, had it been in the neighbourhood; but all in vain. He again dismounted, and, coolly unharnessing each poor brute separately, belaboured him on the road side with a huge club which he carried in the boot for the purpose. Again they were put to, and blacky practising every refinement upon the art of “touching upon the raw," and occasionally strengthening his meagre carcase with a pull at the wine flask, and his more meagre soul by an appeal to the saints, and a variety of crossings, he at length brought us late in the evening to Cintra. If possible, see this place by moonlight, as by day the barrenness of the surrounding country detracts greatly from the beauty of the scene. The bold mountain scenery—the lemon and orange groves—the waving rows of cane, with their nodding, plume-like tops—the beautiful and picturesque village itself—the old Moorish castle on the hills above, crowned by the Penha convent, and the lofty domes of the royal palace beneath-make this the most attractive spot in Portugal.
An additional charm is given to the scene by the ivy-clad walls, covered at top by amarylles and crimson geraniums, which flourish here in the greatest profusion and brilliancy, and by the huge evergreen oaks and cork-trees, (on which grows a beautiful parasitic fern,) intertwined with vines that spread their graceful festoons from branch to branch. There is a handsome prome
nade, surrounded by rows of elms and tulip trees; at the lower end are the houses of two nobles, with their odious pink fronts and ugly busts. It was in one of those “the Convention” was signed. Our fare at the English hotel, and the Port and Collares, were very passable ; I wish I could say as much for the beds, which were of flock, lumpy, uncomfortable, and tenanted by myriads of bugs.
The morning after our arrival we procured donkeys to ascend the heights. The road winds in a zigzag course up the steep, which, though most precipitous, our little animals climbed in safety. As we ascended, the scene beneath gradually disclosed itself. Cintra, its detached houses, the church and palace, rising out of the rich foliage of vines and elms, and, still further down the ravine, the numerous groves of orange and olive trees, watered by rills of the purest crystal, collected from the neighbouring heights—and the mountain itself, bold, rugged, and composed of blocks of granite boulders, with scarcely a blade of any thing green between—all added to the grandeur of our prospect. The outer wall of the ancient Moorish castle surrounds one of the secondary heights, and as it creeps from rock to rock, is guarded at short intervals by round or square towers, many of which are perched on enormous blocks of granite ; while the inner wall above, looks as if cast round the neck of the peak, like a collar, and the summit is crowned by the square black walls of the Morisco Fortalice, within which are the remains of an ancient bath and mosque. It must have been a place of great strength ; but there is nothing in the shape of inscription to declare the origin or the founder.
We continued our way to the Penha convent, which tops the highest pinnacle of the range; and in its eyrie-like position, looks like one of those small turrets that jut out from the walls of our ancient castles. With much difficulty we urged our donkeys up the steep ascent on which the convent stands; the massive gate had fallen from its hinges—the grass had grown over the well-paved yard—the garden fence had been long since demolished, and the nettle and the hemlock had choked up its walls and parterres. No burly friar came to bid us welcome-no lay-brother ran to hold our donkeys—and although it was the Sabbath morning, silence and desolation reigned throughout.
The only disturbers of its solitude were a few jackdaws, that
cawed and fluttered round the chimney-tops, scared at our loud knocking, which reverberated through the building, and some straggling sheep, whose tinkling bells we heard as they leaped over the garden-wall at our approach. All else was silent, upon a day when these rocks and valleys so often rung with “ the toll of the summoning bell,” and the surrounding peasantry in their gay attire filled its courts, or knelt before its altar; for now, wretchedness, ruin, and decay have taken up their abode, where for so many years peculiar sanctity was believed to dwell. Our uproar for admission at last appeared to wake its only inmate, a wretched old woman, who admitted us, after a reconnoitring glance through one of the side windows. In the outer court stands the entrance to the church, the chief object of attraction here; it is a square porch, supported on four pillars of singular twisted rope-work, with knobs between, from which springs a light and elegantlygroined roof; but on the top of this portico they have stuck a contemptible little spire, covered with the eternal Dutch tile, that quite spoils the architectural effect.
The chapel itself is small; the doorway is an old round arch, deeply groined, and of exquisite workmanship, and the altar, which reaches to the roof, is looked upon as a piece of most elaborate art. All is going fast to ruin, even the figures of saints and virgins that still stand upon the altar are losing their tinselled finery, which is now falling to rags, and the tabernacle or shrine was thrown into a corner, and is mouldering to decay. The monks themselves have been all driven hence, and the whole pile, amongst the cloisters and arcades of which many beautiful specimens of Moorish architecture are to be found, wears an aspect of loneliness that lends its saddening influence even to the casual visitor.
The view from the Penha is most extensive; beyond Cintra, and the wooded heights of Collares, all inland appears a brown, barren waste, as far as the eye can reach ; but seaward, the prospect is glorious. The Tagus, from above Lisbon, is traceable to the ocean ; while, to the north, the tall towers of Mafra rise high above the horizon, and close the view.
In our ride over the mountains we passed the Cork convent, a most romantic spot, and so hidden among the rocks, that you see nothing of it till you get between two large blocks of stone that form the entrance. Inside, it is completely covered with the