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RELIGION IN PORTUGAL.
rough bark of the cork tree; the simple friars had decorated the altar, opposite the entrance, with pieces of china, broken plates, shells, and bits of coral from the coast, not inaptly resembling a baby-house ; but it too is abandoned to neglect and to the ruthless hand of time. Its community consisted of only two or three capuchins, the last remaining of whom, taking the strong hint afforded by the treatment of his brethren of De Penha, decamped with the plate and the little treasure belonging to his house. In the garden we found a full-sized figure of our Saviour lying on its face, imbedded in the soft earth, and the crown of thorns, that had bound its brow, in one of the adjoining walks! A few short years, nay, almost months ago, this figure was held to be one of the most sacred in Portugal, and none of the neighbouring peasantry went to their daily work without paying their devotions to it. What then shall we say for the religion of such a land ? Religion there is none; infidelity has usurped the place of ignorance and blind devotion, and now stalks naked throughout the length and breadth of the Peninsula, but more particularly in Portugal. By the present constitution, no male religious houses are permitted; all priestly orders have been abolished—the monks and friars have been driven from their princely establishments to live
upon the sum of one and sixpence a-day, and their estates and large revenues confiscated to the crown. What the French Revolution commenced, and Napoleon carried on, Don Pedro, and the glimmering of enlightenment now breaking on this land, have completed. It is in contemplation to do away with the different nunneries; but it is to be hoped that ample provision will be made for the helpless inmates, before such a measure is adopted ; and I have no doubt but that it is one which will be hailed with the truest gratitude by every signorita in Portugal.
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, the peasantry refused them the necessaries of life, or even 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 neither tolerated nor known in any 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 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 wineshop, and enjoyed a glass of the light claret which takes its name from this place. It is a thin, rough wine, 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 all the green has a rusty, brownish appearance, like that of 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, whose children collect the cones, and beat them with mallets till the seed drops out; these are boiled soft, pounded in mortars, and used as beans are in other countries.
17th. We rose early in the morning and visited the far-famed palace of Cintra-an immense building in the Moorish style, presenting a confused jumble of courts and terraces, and although composed of innumerable apartments, possessing hardly one good room. All the pillars and window-frames are twisted and much covered with carving and fret-work—the latter completely spoiled, however, by their immense heavy green sashes. “The hall of swans,” so called from having the likeness of that bird framed in every panel of the walls and ceiling, is of goodly size and proportion. To another may be given the name of “magpie-hall,” in the domed roof of which each panel contains the representation of a magpie, holding in his claw a rose 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, “por ben,” the Portuguese “honi soit.” The queen withdrew; but on the king's leaving for Lisbon, a few days after, she had this room thus decorated against his return. A small chamber, tiled completely over, is shown as that in which Don Sebastian held his last council before his ill-fated 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 his pallet stood, 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 dome of this handsome apartment having 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, and 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 present 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 distant, 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, in the English style, but scarcely a vestige of its roof now remains ; and within its once highly decorated halls and costly chambers, the bramble, the thorn, and the 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 Vathec 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 plain before-in the dis
tance, the illimitable sea—and around, long slopes of vineyards, with 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 magnificent 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 trace of the walks and pleasure-grounds now remains. 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 present 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 honours 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.
Next morning we bade adieu to Cintra, and turned our faces towards Mafra. The roads are so unfit for carriages that we were obliged to ride. We traversed a most barren and thinly populated country, still worse than any we had yet seen; it looks a perfect desert, except where an occasional lemon or orange grove creeps up the sides of a ravine, owing its existence to the fertilizing power of some neighbouring spring. The small village of Penado was the only collection of houses we met for the distance of twelve miles. The gorge in which this picturesque hamlet is situated, is spanned by an enormous bridge of blue limestone, taken from the neighbouring quarry-an inspection of the fossil shells of which will well repay the traveller's trouble. On the other side of the ravine the porphyritic limestone breaks out; but the principal rock in this part of the kingdom is the common grey marble, the strata of which appear above the surface in many places.
We reached the convent about noon, and were struck more with
its vast extent than the beauty of its architecture. This immense pile is said to be the largest in Europe, next to the Escurial ; and some notion of its magnitude may be formed, from the fact of 10,000 soldiers having been reviewed upon its roof! It was once the favourite residence of the Portuguese monarchs in the olden days of despotism and devotion; and the circumstance of its erection is said to be this—John V. having no family, a monk of great piety, the queen's confessor, stated, that his majesty would not be long childless if he built a Franciscan cell at Mafra. The expectant king performed his part of the condition, and the fulfilment of the prophecy in due time, led to the building being enlarged to its present magnitude. The front faces the dirty village of Mafra ; the splendid entrance is flanked on either side by a tower and spire 200 feet high, between which, but farther back, rises the dome of the church, and the front view is terminated at either extremity by a beautiful pavilion in the Turkish style. An immense flight of steps leads to the highly ornamented semicircular portico, in which are several colossal figures, beautifully executed in white marble. Those standing at the sides of the church door I cannot pass by in silence : one is a St. Vincent, and the other a St. Sebastian, by Carlo Monaldi, in the usual attitude, bound to a tree, and pierced with arrows; both are noble specimens of statuary. We entered the church, and how shall I attempt to describe the grand, imposing spectacle that riveted us to the spot --the great height and vast extent; the elaborate workmanship, with carving of the most curious art; the numerous altars, paintings, and statues; but, far above all, the beauty, variety, and splendour of the marbles. Wherever the eye can reach, it is only marble; the fretted roof-the panelled walls—the lofty and most beauteous dome—the floor, and the gigantic pillars—form a perfect sea of marble, of the most brilliant polish, and endless variety of colour.
The massive gates are of bronze, and finely cast in work. On either side is a number of small altars jutting out into the aisle, each surmounted by a bas-relief in white marble, and having a statue of the same material at either corner; and between these altars there is a row of tall Corinthian pillars. The grand altar is supported by two red porphyry pillars, each of one stone, thirty feet high ; and the altar-piece itself is a splendid painting, by Travisani, representing Saint Anthony receiving the infant