De entre os viajantes que a Sintra dedicaram algumas páginas, destacou-se a aristocrata francesa Catherine Charlotte, Lady Jackson, viúva de um diplomata francês, que da sua visita a Portugal, em 1873, deixou uma obra, Fair Lusitania, por sinal mais tarde traduzida para português por Camilo Castelo Branco. Aqui ficam as saborosas páginas dedicadas a Sintra, suas gentes e pitoresco.
TO CINTRA, BY THE LARMANJAT.
Few persons stay in Lisbon at this season who are not detained there by official duties or business of some sort; yet during the past month of July, in the full fierce glow of summer, the city has been thronged.
And it is still—every hotel crowded—in spite of the scorching rays of the August sun, which hardly allow of a gleam of light or breath of air being admitted into the house, so laden are they with suffocating, sultry heat. But the evenings are breezy enough to brace up the nerves and dispel all the languor of the day, and the promenade in the public gardens is always livened by the exhilarating strains of a military band.
Perhaps it is the difficulty of getting away that makes everyone so restlessly anxious to leave; for, except in the narrow streets of the lower city, it is hardly hotter in Lisbon than in many of the places of fashionable resort. It has its baths, too—though the bathing season can scarcely be said to begin till September mineral baths, and the floating ones on the Tagus; besides those of Cacilhas and Pedro is, as salt, they say, as those of Paço d’Arcos, Caxias, or Cascais, which little bathing-towns are already fuller of visitors than they ever were known to be. Indeed, wherever you go, or rather think of going, the news is, “The place is full of Spanish families.” Or, if you would secure at a hotel or private house, an apartment for any length of time, you are sure to be met with the reply, “After such a date it is taken for the season by a Spanish family.”
A Portuguese gentleman who went over to Caldas da Rainha, to secure a house there for three months, told me that on remonstrating with the owner, who was a ” retired blacksmith,” on the exorbitance of the price he asked for it, was answered, ” No doubt for Portuguese families the prices this season are exorbitant; but we expect to let only to Spaniards, who have all brought full purses to Portugal, and are able and willing to pay well. Would your Excellencia have us reject the ripe golden grain that Providence casts in our lap, for the chance of picking up the straw by the wayside.
“And what did your Excellencia say,” I inquired,
“when thus politely compared by your own countryman to a wisp of straw ?”
“What could I say,” he answered, ” to such a man ? I merely shrugged my shoulders, turned my back, and walked off; for another such spark from his anvil might have set the straw on fire.”
We are literally thrust upon the pave by these Spaniards. Cintra has its full quota of them; and
those who are not of the fortunate few who possess quintas, small or large, of their own, are fain to put up with any quarters they can find, for the sake of breathing a cooler, fresher atmosphere. Yet it is in the evening rather than in the slight difference of temperature during the day between this and Lisbon that the change is so sensibly felt. Instead of the searching wind which sends a shiver through the whole frame, chilling the blood that has been at fever heat during the day, the evening air here is deliciously soft and balmy, and without a particle of damp. But we have too many people—a gay pleasure- seeking mob, whose thoughts seem to be wholly given to balls, plays, and races, present and prospective—pastimes quite out of harmony with the kind of enjoyment you naturally seek amidst scenes of such grandeur and sublimity as these.
The new Larmanjat railway, which was opened but a few weeks ago, is expected to transform Cintra into one of those junketing-places where ” a happy day may be spent ” by those Lisbonense who have neither time nor cash to spare for seeking happiness further from home. However, from my own experience of “the Larmanjat,” I should say that only those to whom the saving of an hour and a milreis or two is of the utmost importance would ever take a second journey by it. It is constructed on a system which, I am told, has been tried in France with but little success. It is not in great favour here; and I have heard engineers say that it must ultimately prove a failure, as the rail, which is of wood, will swell in the rainy season, and throw the carriages off the line. Yet there is another line on the same system nearly completed to Torres Vedras.
The carriages are of two classes, first and third—the second is to be introduced by and by. Two benches are placed down the centre back to back, separated by a partition reaching within a few inches to the roof of the carriages, which are entered by two doors on either side; and there is a window, with a curtain, in front of each passenger. In the third class there is neither partition nor glass sash, a thick curtain supplying the place of the latter. These carriages have a small centre wheel, which runs on the single rail. They are also furnished with a brush, which, moving from side to side, clears of the sand and stones, or other impediments to safe progress. The speed is not great—the journey of about sixteen miles occupying two hours and a quarter.
We were not long in discovering that it was impossible without being suffocated to sit with closed windows. And as a loose sandy dust, to the depth of at least a foot, lies at this season on the roadside where the rail is laid, in a very short time we were literally covered with it from head to foot; the curtain, from being loose at the bottom and of a thin gauzy stuff, affording not the slightest protection. Our eyes and mouths were also filled with this irritating gritty white dust, which came in clouds against the face with a sharpness like pulverized glass. Everyone appeared to wear a powdered wig, or to have turned very grey during the journey; and we all sat with handkerchiefs before our faces to prevent, what otherwise seemed probable, being blinded and choked.
Then the joltin! I shall never forget it, so unmercifuly were we bumped and knocked about! Now, tossed up to the roof of the carriage ; then only not brought upon our knees because of the narrowness of the vehicle, but getting them, instead, beaten and battered and bruised black and blue against its sides.
And all this time the engine was thumping and panting and screeching and roaring, as I never heard engine before. An enormous bell, too, was constantly ringing, to warn foot passengers and the drivers of carriages to keep out of the way of “the great Larmanjat.”
Of course we could see but one side of the road.
But this mattered not; for had we been passing through the loveliest scenes in nature, who under circumstances so wretched could have seen any loveliness in them?
Dust was what we chiefly saw from the beginning to the end of the journey. The stopping-places were numerous, and as “the Larmanjat ” is still a novelty, the country people turned out of their cottages, or left off their work, to look at and laugh at us. A crowd of beggars, of all ages and both sexes, seemed to be waiting at every station the arrival of the train. A wretched set of objects they were—all crying out for an ” esmolinha para sua saude ; ” some whining, some grinning, some stoutly demanding it.
I believe I did get, en passant, just a glimpse of the great arches of the aqueduct, and another of Queluz when we stopped at that dreary station. Our travelling companions were Brazilians, who talked as only Brazilians can talk, and smoked in a similar way. There was with them a little impish spoiled child, who, not unnaturally, got into a passion with the dust; and a black nurse, who gabbled continually, and tried to wrap up
her fractious charge in a cloth cloak ; but it would not answer. The child was nearly smothered, and so the dust was triumphant over all to the end.
If you should ever be tempted to visit Cintra, come early in the month of May; and if the excursion be made from Lisbon, whatever the season, eschew “the Larmanjat.” Hire a carriage, with a pair of good horses, and an intelligent, civil driver. The journey will then be a pleasant one, if “the Larmanjat ” does not frighten the horses, smash the carriage, and nearly or quite kill you and your driver—it performed such a feat last week, in the case of a party of people going to Cintra. But such things will probably not occur often. The road is an excellent one; and there are pretty bits of scenery by the way. Yet an aridity which is not without a certain degree of picturesqueness of its own is its prevailing feature, until the green hillocks that form the outworks, as it were, of that region of romance you are entering, and which they yet conceal from your sight, first meet the eye. A very pleasant contrast they are to the sandy hills, whose fantastic outlines you leave so loug been looking upon.
As you advance, these hillocks or green knolls are interspersed with orchards, vineyards, and gardens, full of ripe fruit and bright flowers; and with occasional groups of trees of finer growth than any yet seen on the road, the foliage is denser, the green tints more varied and vivid. Soon after, the once famous palace of Ramalhao and its citron and orange groves are passed, and winding along through a fertile and beautiful country the foot of the mountain is turned, and the little town of Cintra is seen. It lies close to the base of that huge rocky range, once called “the Mountains of the Moon,” where, lifted up towards the skies, on their loftiest peak, stands the Castello da Pena; and at a short distance from it, crowning another stony height of the same mountain ridge, the Castello de Mouros.
The town, or more properly the village, of Cintra, has sometimes been called “the Portal of Paradise.”
If a carriage has brought you up, you may think it so too, for you will have had an opportunity of feasting your eyes on the beauties that lie around, above, and beyond it. But if you have travelled by “the Larmanjat” all beyond the portal will have been hidden from you, and you will probably be inclined to think a more prosaic appellation better suited to that collection of mean old houses and shops, crooked, narrow, and ill streets, which you have had to trudge up to.
“The Larmanjat” sets its passengers down in a sandy road, about half-a-mile away, and neither fly nor omnibus from any hotel is in waiting to convey them the distance that separates the terminus from the town. A troop of dirty ragged fellows, men and boys, hang about the place and offer themselves as guides and porters, or to engage donkeys, should you desire to go up to the castles and convents. If their services are declined, they will pray you to bestow an alms for the good of your soul.
When we arrived, and were released from “the Larmanjat” boxes, so worn, weary, and travel-soiled were we, that the walk up to the town, though so short, seemed as a long and weary pilgrimage before us. A man at the station was so obliging as to help the friend who was with me to shake me and brush me, and beat away the sack of dust and sand I carried on my hat and cloak, that my appearance might not astonish the natives, or shock the sensibilities of the beau monde, should we perchance meet any of them on our way. To go down to the station to see “the Larmanjat” come in and discharge its dusty cargo, is one of the amusements of Cintra; just as at Polkestone and Boulogne the idlers amuse themselves by assembling at the landing-place to laugh at the woe-begone-looking travellers who have been suffering from a rough sea passage.
However, by going early we escaped this ordeal— for it is an afternoon amusement—and, unnoticed, wended our way upwards by the gradually ascending and winding pathway, overshadowed by the far-spreading branches of the tall trees on either side. We passed several quintas the high walls of which are partly covered with mosses and wild flowers. It was market day, which gave quite a business-like aspect to the quaint little town. I cannot say much for the marketplace. It has the appearance of a line of low-roofed cells ; but the fruit and vegetables, cheese and butter the latter a luxury in Portugal, and in Lisbon and many other parts to be had fresh only in small quantities from Cintra, Ireland supplying the rest—looked
remarkably tempting. The finest strawberries, peaches, and apricots come from Cintra, where some pains are bestowed on their cultivation; elsewhere little attention is given to anything but the vine, so that fruit, with the exception of grapes, figs, and oranges, though everywhere abundant, is rarely fine. Then the baskets or pens of white chickens— which seem to be generally more esteemed than those of coloured plumage, and are always separated from them—were numerous, and the market-women, as we passed, loudly called our attention to them. It was the same with the women in Lisbon. “Whenever we happened to stroll into the Praia da Eigueira they seemed to think we were always in quest of white chickens—” Veja senhora, são todas brancas, e mui boas.”
There is so much to interest and amuse in the course of the short walk to the town that before it is reached the horrors of “the Larmanjat” journey are forgotten.
To your right is the Palacio Real, the Alhambra of the Moorish kings of Portugal, partly rebuilt and used as an occasional summer residence by its Christian sovereigns. Reminiscences of the most romantic kind, as well as of great historical interest, are connected with it.
There appear to be many more quintas nestling amongst the rocks and trees, than when I last saw this lovely spot. And Sant’ Estephania, which some years ago was partly built and afterwards abandoned, has revived its pretensions to notice. A new town is springing up there, and a handsome hotel is shortly to be opened. If but a part of what is promised in this new establishment be carried out for the accommodation and comfort of visitors, Victor, whose hotel is now the best in Cintra, must look well to the arrangements of his house, if he would continue to stand first on the list. Estephania is about three-quarters of a mile from Cintra, on the new Mafra road. Its situation is most lovely; and pretty villas are scattered about amidst groves and gardens traversed by streamlets, whose pure crystalline waters nourish on their banks a herbage so fragrant that at every footprint a sweet odour exhales from it. Beautiful Estephania! On dit, that “the Larmanjat” rail is to be carried up to it. If so, even the purgatory of that journey one might willingly endure with the prospect of such an Eden at the end of it—were there no other means of reaching it.
It was proposed about sixteen years ago to make a railroad from Lisbon, starting from Pedroços, just beyond Belem, and ending at Estephania, where some very pretty houses were then erecting with the view of establishing a suburb to Cintra. The line of rail was marked out, and a company formed to complete it. Some portion of the embankment at the Lisbon end was begun, when Cintra grew jealous, foreseeing, probably, that visitors to these enchanting regions would prefer to take up their quarters at Sant’ Estephania, which is so much more beautifully situated, rather than in the little old town itself. The new rail and the pretty new suburb met, in consequence, with great opposition; certain powerful influences were brought to bear, and the twofold project was abandoned. Better success, I understand, is likely to attend the lovely rival of Cintra in her present attempt to win the patronage of visitors. She has many advantages to aid her—the level walk to Cintra, which as the trees and shrubs, that grow apace here, yearly extend their shadows, is becoming a favourite promenade ; then the new Praça for the bull-fights—a distraction one would hardly think that Cintra felt the need of—is close to Sant’ Estephania, The douche baths establishment, for which some people come expressly to Cintra, is on the Mafra road. The Conde de Ferreira’s schools, which interest many persons, are close at hand, and the journey to Mafra itself is shortened by making Estephania your headquarters.
Cintra has several hotels, but, after Victor’s, Mrs. Lawrence’s is the one most patronized by English visitors. Mrs. L. is an elderly woman, and has lived in Portugal, if not in Cintra, nearly all her life, I am told. Led by one of the boy guides, we made the mistake of entering her house at the back by a sort of low-roofed kitchen, where an old dame, whom I supposed to be the cook, sat shelling peas; but she lifted up her head, and peering through her spectacles, said, ” Well, marm ! and what may be your pleasure ?”
“Queremos almoçar” said my hungry companion, somewhat impatiently; while I replied by inquiring
—“Are you Mrs. Lawrence?
-“Yes, to be sure, mam; and ain’t you English? for the young gentleman speaks Portuguese.”
-“We want breakfast directly,” he said, in good English.
“Well, sir, if you’ll walk up stairs and order your breakfast, you’ll get it directly. And are you come by “the Larmanjat,” mam? If you have, you’ll be glad of a wash, I s’pose ? And I s’pose you want rooms, too ? But I ain’t really got none for the present, at least none but what people Avho’s not here now is paying for to make sure on ’em.”.
After a little conversation the old lady, who was at first rather abrupt, softened off into wonderfully kind speeches, and became amiably inquisitive respecting us. Her daughter and grandchild, whose history she told me, having made their appearance, I was shown over the establishment. A more bare and comfortless- looking one could scarcely be found. Some of the sleeping rooms are on the lower ground floor. One of the adjoining sitting-rooms, looking on nothing at all, was furnished with three or four small oblong tables, full dressed in white muslin petticoats and dimity covers, after the fashion of toilette-tables; a long, deep-seated, straight and high-backed sofa, with round bolsters, the whole covered with dimity; and three or four arm-chairs, high and deep-seated, straight backed, and covered en suite. A few staring old prints, and a little crockery and glass, made up the ornamentation.
This state-room was furnished, I imagine, according to some dim reminiscence of a fashion prevalent in Portugal in days of yore, and occasionally to be seen in some old mansions even now ; that of covering tables, chairs, brackets,
and shelves with draperies of crimson or other coloured damask. I have often seen this elaborate sort of decoration at San Paolo da Loanda—where, as in most colonies, old fashions and customs linger long, even after they have become obsolete in the mother country—indeed, we ourselves had there a spacious, barn-like sala thus conveniently adorned. Rough deal tables and chairs became, so disguised, splendid pieces of furniture; the sideboards were magnificent as high-altars, and, with their candelabra, &c., much resembled them.
However, Mrs. Lawrence’s muslin and dimity were clean and white; and having cleanliness, a genuine enthusiast might be supposed to care for no more, or even be prepared, for the sake of sojourning amidst the picturesque scenery of Cintra, to wink at the want of it. But according to my philosophy, after contemplating with rapture the sublime and beautiful in nature, one should return to pretty and harmonious surroundings indoors; to digest, as it were, to contemplate anew, and fix on the tablets of memory the pleasing visions still floating distinctly before the mind’s eye. Mean, wretched quarters are often fatal to the retention of vivid or lasting impressions of scenes of grandeur and loveliness, poetic beauty, or romantic wildness. For thoughts of personal discomfort in connexion with them will glance into the mind, perhaps unconsciously; yet they blur the picture, and when memory in after days would recall it, it is cloudy and indistinct and awakes no pleasant recollections; whilst had it been seen under happier auspices—that is, while taking your ease in a good inn or hotel distance of time would only have lent new ” enchantment to the view.”
There are persons who profess to like what they call “roughing it.” The manly part of the gentle sex will even declare they find enjoyment in that rude state of things. But they are people who are incapable, I conceive, of seeing or feeling beauty in nature, though they may agree with you in calling beautiful what is pointed out to them. They are a sort of athletes : they tell of the feats of pedestrianism they have performed, of dangers they have braved, of the mountains they have climbed, the huts they have slept in, and the bread and cheese they have devoured; but rarely tell of anything they have seen. Probably they do not often see anything or anybody more interesting to them than themselves, or they have not had time to notice it, having—as a “fast” lady and gentleman, travellers of this species, lately informed me —”found roughing it in itself enjoyment enough, and awfully jolly work for a change.” This couple asked me to join them in rushing about the country for three or four days, but it did not suit me to do so; and when, after some conversation, the lady discovered that my ideas of pleasant travelling differed much from theirs, she said to her husband, ” Don’t you perceive, dear, she goes in for the slow and sublime?”
But to return to Mrs. Lawrence. In justice to her I must say that her house, if not so finely situated as some others, is clean; her breakfasts and dinners are excellent, though the myriads of flies dispute with you the possession of every morsel you put into your mouth; and her charges are moderate.
We had finished our breakfast of coffee, Hespanhol, fresh Cintra butter, strawberries, peaches, and figs, before the burrinhos had yet made their appearance. They had been ordered on our way, before entering the “Hospedaria Lawrence;” but the man who owned them of course concealed the fact that the animals where then in the market-place, and had been employed since the early morning in carrying market produce to and from. He, however, informed us of it as an excuse for the delay, forgetting that he had exacted much more than he was entitled to, on account of the greater extent than was usual, as he hinted, of the excursion we then proposed to make.
But the donkeys were more honest than their owner.
Evidently they had an inkling of what was before them, and not being disposed to carry us up to the Pena, they absolutely declined to be mounted. We dismissed them, but it cost them a flogging, poor brutes. Being provided with fresh ones, we set off on our expedition, at a trot.
Why one should be obliged to go jolting up the hill on donkeys I cannot conceive. The road is much improved since I last climbed it, and is so good—for, though winding, the ascent is very gradual—that ponycarriages or donkey-chaises might be used. I very soon dismounted, and walked more than half the way up, using the donkey only at the steepest parts ; for the wretched old seat that did duty as a saddle could not be kept in its place, and I was obliged, therefore, to be ever on the qui vive to avoid getting an awkward fall.
We were soon overtaken by a party of ten or twelve Spanish ladies and gentlemen, and exchanged vivas with them. Two of their number followed my example of walking, and were, they said, relieved by it. Truly, we had in some parts of the road a good depth of sand to wade through; still it was less fatiguing than jolting up the whole distance on donkey-back. We were more at liberty, too, to look about us than when engaged in checking the meanderings of our beasts, or urging them forward when it was their good pleasure to stand still.
Some parts of the ascent are thickly shaded by lofty forest trees, and at intervals there are grottoes, and fountains with large drinking-troughs, and seats where weary pilgrims may rest a while under the waving branches of the graceful pepper-trees, and be not only thankful but happy; for, Cintra,
“Quem descansando a fresca sombra tua
Sonhou senão venturas?”
“Who, Cintra, either rested beneath thy shady bowers
And dreamt of aught but happiness?”
On the right are the lofty and jagged mountain peaks; beneath them, that wondrous melange of massive grey stones, clusters of pines, hanging shrubs, sparkling waterfalls, and luxuriant vegetation, through which is traced the castellated wall leading to the Castello de Mouros. On the left, a vast stretch of undulating ground lies below, fertilized by many a streamlet that has foamed down the mountain’s side, and covered with a succession of gardens and orange groves—forming a picture less wildly romantic than the first, yet not yielding to it in poetic beauty.
A party of English lately from Cintra excused their want of admiration of its beauties by saying they were familiar with the scenery of the Isle of Wight. Doubtless the scenery of the little island is, in certain parts, bold and beautiful; but it bears no resemblance to that of Cintra, whose rocky heights are far loftier and grander, and its vegetation far richer and more varied. You might with as much propriety compare the view of London from Greenwich Park with that of Lisbon from Almada—as it has been compared by an extremely British John Bull, giving, of course, the preference to the Greenwich view. Probably both views are finer now than when the invidious comparison was made, for I read it in an old book of travels of 1816 or 1817.
Some persons, too, contend that Cintra owes to the enthusiasm of Byron and other modern poets its prestige for beauty. But it is more probable that it owes it to its beauty alone. Before Byron wrote, both Lisbon and Cintra were better known and more frequently visited by the English than they are now, except perhaps by mercantile people; for it was then customary for consumptive persons to seek relief from their malady by wintering in Lisbon, and few probably extended their visit far enough into the spring without spending some time at Cintra. I have some letters written by a lady who was here with her daughters in 1791. She says: “While staying at this enchanting spot I have read Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and have been much struck by his description of Paradise, from its resemblance to this place. It is, in fact, a description of Cintra, and the only one I ever read that at all does it justice.” And in many respects this is true; for of Cintra it might truly be said
“And overhead upgrew
Insuperable height of loftiest shade,
Cedar, and pine, and fir, and branching palm,
A sylvan scene; and as the ranks ascend
Shade above shade, a woody theatre
Of stateliest view.”
This and much more that follows may apply to Cintra; but in the description of Eden there enters not that of the bold crags and cliffs of a rocky coast, and the view, so grand and sublime, of the boundless ocean.
Many pens have attempted to describe Cintra— I know of none but Beckford’s that has succeeded in making its beauty felt; and he does not so much attempt to describe the place, as the effect of its spellike loveliness on his sensitive and poetic temperament.
He wrote of it between 1788 and 1794, and I can imagine that Cintra was even more lovely then than now—at least it was more out of the reach of pleasureseeking invaders. There were neither races nor bullfights, but probably there were fairies and woodnymphs, or you might fancy so; for it is just that sort of enchanted and enchanting region where, if anywhere, the existence of such beings may be believed in. The glowworms and fireflies that perhaps lighted the fairy revels still linger here. You may see them in the summer evenings, and as you saunter along the “Passeio dos Amores”—the Lovers’ Walk—or other shady grove. But not sauntering alone; for the beauties of nature seem more beautiful still when a companion of sympathetic tastes shares with you in your delight in and admiration of them. There, as you listen to the warbling of the nightingales, while the moonbeams are peeping through the foliage, and the softest of zephyrs are stealing through it laden with the odours of the orange, the jasmine, and myrtleblossoms, mingled with the perfume of roses and lavender and heliotrope and all other sweet things, you may fancy, as you breathe this balmy atmosphere, that seems too pure, too ethereal for earth, that you have at least reached the threshold of Paradise.
At last we have climbed the hill, and without much fatigue, considering that we are a thousand metres above the level of the sea. We enter a fine broad avenue, a vast leafy bower formed by the stately forest trees that unite their long branches overhead, and a few paces bring us to the castellated Palace of the Rock — the Castello da Pena—the mountain home of the rei artista, Dom Fernando.!
For a time we kept up with the Spanish party, and had some snatches of conversation with two or three of them ; for Spaniards and Portuguese often converse together with perfect facility, each in his own language, yet each, in the pride of his distinct nationality, professing ignorance of the language of the other. These people were both lively and courteous. They suggested that we should make but one company of pilgrims ; for which suggestion, without acceding to it, we thanked them in the usual high-flown, complimentary, conventional style. Gradually we lagged behind, for we expected a member of the king’s household to admit us to parts of the castle usually closed to visitors when Dom Fernando is residing at Cintra.
Just at this moment, also, a very wary eye is kept on all Spaniards visiting the palaces, churches, and public institutions; for the number of fires that occur every night in Lisbon rather increases than diminishes, and as the cause of them is rarely discovered, they are attributed to the concealed emissaries of the Spanish revolutionists; consequently the attendants at the public buildings have strict orders, as one of them informed me, never to leave a party of those “malditos hespanhoes”—cursed Spaniards—for one moment alone.
A drawbridge leads to the principal entrance of the castle. On the gates are the arms of Portugal and Saxony, and surmounting them is the figure of an armed knight with spear and shield, the latter bearing the arms of the Baron Echwege, under whose direction the engineering works projected here by the king, Dom Fernando, have been carried out.
It is usual on entering the grounds to take a guide, to lead you through all the windings and turnings of this charming labyrinth of shrubberies and gardens.
The donkeys are taken by their drivers to the other side of the castle, by a pathway cut round the mountain; and on leaving the grounds by that side you find your monture waiting for you outside the gates. Two or three men presented themselves as guides, naming a large fee for their services, and protesting it was very little before even they were questioned about it. But there was a youthful guide among them, a tall, slim lad of about fourteen, in a dark blue woolen dress and red belt. He was barefooted, and stood apart silently and modestly, with his long red woolen cap in his hand, waiting the result of what must have seemed to lookers-on very like a quarrel between his older and rougher companions. But they were merely vehemently supporting each other’s pretensions, and so that one of their number was engaged on his own terms they would have been well enough contented; for they share their gains, I believe, and are privileged to get as much as they can from visitors. I liked the appearance of the boy guide. His dark, soft, gazelle eyes, intelligent face, and quiet manner formed a pleasant contrast to the noisy, raving men, and their “much ado about nothing.” My choice fell upon him as our conductor. The men shrugged their shoulders, and seemed to imply that he was an ignoraynus. I thought him picturesque and sympathico.
“ O! sim, senhora, sim” he answered, when I inquired if he knew well all the ins and outs of the grounds. That was enough; the stories and legends of the castle were already known to us—and besides, it is not always pleasant to be too much guided.
“And what shall we pay you?” I asked.”
“Whatever senhora pleases,” he almost whispered, glancing timidly at the men. But they heard him, and up went their shoulders again. This time it was in contemptuous pity for the poor young guide, whose simplicity they, of course, thought we should take advantage of to the extent of a vintem or two.
It is scarcely possible, at least for my pen, to give an adequate idea of the varied beauty of the pleasure grounds of the Castello da Pena. Every rise and fall of the mountain summit has been turned to account, and the grandest views are obtained from different points—the plains and fertile valleys stretching for miles away ; the mountains of Alemtejo and Estramadura ; the Estrella, and other buildings on the heights of Lisbon ; and, most sublime of all, the bold cliffs and crags of the Cintra range, and, beyond them, the broad, boundless expanse of the Atlantic.
What glorious sunsets may be seen here! There is nothing to interrupt the view, for the towers and turrets of this aerial abode rise high above the peaks of the mountain, and when the gloom of approaching night has overspread the valleys of Cintra, they still are tinged with the lingering golden gleams of the setting sun.
There are plots of verdure, green as the green hills of Kent, and hedgerows of geraniums—a mass of pink, white, and violet blossoms—of itself a beautiful sight.
The gardens are most tastefully laid out, and kept in perfect order. North and south; the torrid, frigid, and temperate zones, seem to have contributed their choicest flowers, shrubs, and trees for their adornment; and when transplanted to this favoured spot they attain to a size and beauty unknown in their native soil.
Broad walks are cut in the soft parts of the rock, and little rills flow along the side of pathways densely shaded by the intertwined boughs of spreading trees, forming long cloistered avenues of foliage, impervious to the sun’s fiercest rays, and pleasantly cool in the hottest season. Where the rills swell into rivulets they are crossed by pretty rustic bridges, or some graceful fountain is supplied by them. There are kiosques, pavilions, aviaries, and summer-houses, and seats placed to command some beautiful sea view or landscape, or to aflPord shelter from the glare of sunlight while you rest beneath an archway of leaves and flowers.
As we passed along the winding path down to the greenhouse and the flower-beds called the Jardim de Madama —Madama being the Condessa d’Edla, the wife of Dom Fernando—a snake lay coiled up close to the edge of a small pool. Our guide sought for a stone to throw at it, but as soon as the creature espied us it darted into the water. It was full three feet in length, and finely mottled, but whether venomous or not I cannot say. It was not a familiar sight to the boy, who was anxious to wait and watch for its reappearance that we might endeavour to kill it. However, this was not sport to my fancy, so we wandered on, admiring by the way the tufts of flowers, so artistically scattered amongst mossy grey stones and projections of rock that they seem carelessly flung there by the hand of nature.
Many bushes of white and tinted camellias flourish
in these gardens, and other plants so rare in these latitudes that the specimens found here are the only known ones either in Portugal or Spain. The collection of greenhouse exotics is of surpassing beauty. The gardener who showed them, and who seemed to take great pride in them, was so much delighted with my reiterated ” Bellissima / bellissima” that he gave me the history of several of his floral treasures, and promised me full particulars of his method of treating others when he should have, as he said, ” o mui grande prazer of seeing the senhora again”. But I fear all his horticultural erudition was thrown away upon me, for when I left his glass palace I remembered only the exquisite loveliness of his flowers.
Perhaps I need scarcely tell you that the magnificent Norman-Gothic castle, perched, as if by magic, on these lofty peaks, is partly constructed from the ruins of the old convent founded in 1503 by Dom Manoel, for the Jeronymite monks, and dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Peha—Our Lady of the Rock.
While my companion, accompanied by the boy guide, went in quest of the cicerone who was to show us some part of the castle, I sat down on a stone tablet, under the windows of one of the private apartments, and beside some steps leading to an open door, over which was a projection of stone, carved in the most fanciful and capricious designs. Presently, I heard voices in conversation ; then snatches of song to a piano accompaniment.
After a little of this preluding, a female voice, of no great power, but sweet and thrilling and evidently well cultivated, sang an air of a somewhat tender, melancholy cast. On that spot, where all around was so well calculated to excite the imagination, the voice of the unseen songstress seemed to me as that of some enchanted or spell-bound inmate of the magic palace. Flowers bloomed at my side, and before me a creeping plant, trained on plaited twigs or trellice-work, formed a wall of leaves. There were towers and turrets in sight, and a very monastic looking archway—the sort of surroundings to induce a pleasant dreamy state of mind, and to favour indulgence in it for a brief moment. Suddenly the singing ceased. I heard it no more; and saw no one until the return of my companions, when I learned
that I had been listening to the singing and playing of the Condessa d’Edla and Dom Fernando, and that they had probably left the castle by some other door, as they were going down to the lakes to fish.
When the monastery was purchased by Dom Fernando from the person into whose possession it had come after the secularization of religious houses in Portugal, it was fast falling to ruin. But such portions of it as remained in a fair state of preservation or could be repaired—such as parts of the outer wall and the turrets—were retained and turned to account in the plan sketched out for the rebuilding and remodeling of the edifice. The high tower—from which, it is said, Dom Manoel used to watch for the return of the fleet of Vasco da Gama from the exploring expedition to India—had fallen in, and has been rebuilt; and there have been added square turrets and cupolas, castellated walls, courts, and arched passages, a drawbridge and fosses.
The carvings which adorn every archway and entrance, every projecting window, and framework of the doors, both within and without, are most elaborate, elegant, and full of inventive fancy. The style of the furniture corresponds with that of the architecture.
The principal dining-room is of large size; the centre is supported by pillars, and contains a large horse-shoe dining-table. The castle terrace commands a prospect of great extent, but it is not so pleasing as the view from some other parts, the country being less fertile in that direction and very slightly undulated. It reminded me of the view from the terrace-walk at Saint Germain, which, I think, is celebrated more for its extent than for beauty or diversity in the landscape.
Prom the terrace, a lofty flight of steps leads to the church and cloister, which are those of the old convent, and remain in their original state. They are small, but exceedingly interesting. We were urged to examine closely the beautiful sacrario of the high altar, and were led, or rather pulled, in between it and the altar table.
I thought it an irreverent, if not a sacrilegious act. However, it was a Roman Catholic’s, not a Protestant’s suggestion that led to it.
The sacrario is of transparent alabaster, beautifully sculptured in basso relievo. The subject is the Passion of our Saviour. It is designed with so much skill, and the workmanship is so delicate and highly finished, that, of its kind, this altar-piece is considered unequalled in the kingdom. It is supported by long garlands of flowers, carved from the same precious alabaster, and gracefully festooned on pillars of black porphyry. I was told that when a lamp is placed in it the effect is beautiful, and that sufficient light is emitted for the priest officiating at the altar to read by.
It was made in Italy for Dom Joao the Third, the son of Dom Manoel, and presented by him to the Pena convent in 1529. It is extraordinary that the French, who despoiled the convent of everything worth carrying away, did not contrive to remove this beautiful work of art.
There is a small painted window in the church, said to be of the same date. It represents Vasco da Gama on his knees before Dom Manoel, who holds before him, as if for his admiration, what looks something like a bird-cage, but is meant for a model of the Torre de Belem. In the cloister is another small painted window, and two or three curious ancient pictures. The church and cloister now form the private chapel of the castle.
Returning to the terrace, I noticed the little Swiss farm in the plain below. It is called “the Chalet de Madama” and is something in the style of the chalet of the Petit Trianori. From the terrace we went down to the lakes. They are picturesquely pretty. Here and there on their banks are large drooping willows and immense bushes of fuchsia, planted close to the water’s edge, and leaning forward with their bunches of pendent flowers lying on the surface of the lake.
Here we again fell in with the Spanish party, whom we had not met with in our rambles through the pleasure grounds. They were waiting to see Dom Fernando and his Condessa, who had not yet made their appearance ; but the little skiff, with the fishing tackle and all needful appurtenances, and the boatmen in charge, were in readiness for them. We did not wait for the embarkation of the fishing party, but after strolling through some prettily laid out garden ground near the lakes, we took leave of our boy guide—he, I believe, as well satisfied with us as we had been with him—and, passing through some large iron gates, went on to the Castello de Mouros. It is on a lower eminence, not far from the Pena. There is but little to see there except the cistern, or vaulted Moorish bath, which I am told is forty-five feet in length and sixteen in breadth. The water that flows into it is beautifully clear, and remains always at the same level.
The outer wall of this castle has been repaired by the king, Dom Fernando, within whose princely domain it falls—a more enviable possession than that offered to him in the tottering throne of Spain. Various animals, among them the stag, the gracefully-bounding gazelle, the horse, and the ox, enjoy themselves here in full liberty. There are also peacocks, a pair of small ostriclies, swans, and gay-plumaged ducks. The ancient mosque still remains. Excavations, in connexion with the works then in progress, were made in it a few years ago, when several skeletons were found. Their bones were collected and buried beneath a half-moon shaped stone, with a cross and a crescent as emblems, and the inscription, ” O que ficou junto, Deus separará”, to denote that it was unknown whether the bones there buried were those of Christians or Mohammedans. The stones are defaced by the scratchings and scrawlings of such persons as have a mania for disfiguring places and objects they are permitted to see by placing their initials or names on them, and by inscribing sentences, pious or sublime, for the edification of less gifted individuals.
It is to be hoped that the latter, at least, of whatever nation, may see so eloquent “a sermon in,” or on, “these stones,” that they may be taught by it to abstain from the sin of using pencil or knife in further defacement of them.
There is a narrow pathway by which, if traversed on foot, you may, by a cross cut, get down from the Castello de Mouros to the town in a very short time.
This path we proposed to descend, instead of then going on to the Penha Verde; for I had been thrown once on the road by the abominable donkey, aided by the abominable saddle, and was resolved not to mount the brute again, at least for that day. The donkey driver chose to look on this arrangement as a great affront to him and his donkeys. He entreated, he expostulated; said I was “very little damaged”—which was very near the truth, for I was not damaged at all; but his eloquence was not so persuasive as to induce me to take a long round for the sake of soothing his wounded feelings. And so we then and there parted company ; he in great dudgeon, and we much amused.
THE QUINTAS, SANTA CRUZ, &C.
Beautiful is the sight in the early morning in summer, when the thin gauzy mist that sometimes rests on the serra, concealing the castles and convents on its peaks, is first touched by the sun’s bright rays. The mist does not roll off, as from some thick, cloud-covered mountains, but becomes rosy and transparent, magnifying the objects perceived through it. Then gradually it grows thinner and clearer; expanding and melting away into space, as it leaves the lovely picture it had veiled revealed in full beauty.
You must be up and abroad and in shady places very early if you would see—and it is a far more refreshing sight in these southern climes than in the chilly north—every leaf and flower sparkling with dewdrops; for they are kissed away by the first ardent sunbeam that greets them. The fresh breezes which then stir the foliage soon die away, to revive only in the evening; and the richer perfume with which the air is then laden lasts but while the blossoms are moist with the odours distilled by the night dews. Birds are on the wing, or are twittering, as they dress their plumage, in the laurestinus and jasmine hedgerows.
The busy hum of the insect world is heard; the bee seeks the fragrant wild thyme, the bluebells, and hyacinths; long gauzy wings of brilliant hues flash and glance in the morning sunshine, and tiny butterflies hover lovingly over the wild flowers that embroider the ground, and whose little gem like stars and bells, now fully expanded, will be slowly rolled up and hidden under some leaflet or blade of grass, long ere the fierce glare of noontide can reach them. The dawn, here, bursts somewhat suddenly into day with a beauty too fleeting, but all its own.
There are many quintas in Cintra and on the Collares road that are open to visitors, and afford—where admission can be obtained at so early an hour—a delightful morning’s stroll before setting out on some more distant or toilsome expedition. The quinta of the Marquez de Vianna is a celebrated one, and, with reference to its situation and the general beauty of Cintra, has been compared to the antechamber of a romantic fairy palace. It has very fine gardens; pretty grottoes and cascades, shady walks and arbours. But far more beautiful, to my thinking, is the quinta of the Marquez de Vallada.
“In shadier bower
Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor nymph
Nor Faunus haunted.”
It has a plantation of forest trees, forming a labyrinth of groves, and is a favourite haunt of the nightingales. There are long and densely-shaded avenues bordered with bushes of blue and pink hydrangea, which flourish and bloom most luxuriantly beneath the vast,cool.There are glade-like openings, mossy and verdant, adorned with statues and fountains, and at one end there is a ruined battlement. Some of these romantic allees lead to a beautiful flower-garden; others open upon a lake of some extent, where there is a boat and a bridge, and where swans of the snowiest plumage disport themselves on its waters, which are of purest crystalline clearness. A pathway runs round the lake, which, except at one end, where a few trees droop over it, is bordered with flowers—roses, lilies, geraniums, carnations and fuchsias, with many others of bright tints and sweet fragrance. A castellated wall terminates the grounds on the lake side, and a most enchanting view of the country is obtained from it. It is indeed a very charming place—a spot one could be contented to live and die in.
There are many other quintas, each having some rival attraction to offer—all of them being more or less beautiful. Those of the Baroneza de Regaleira and the Marquez de Pombal are favourite promenades ; but perhaps the most fashionable evening resort is the Campo of the Marialva Palace, called also the Seteaes. The Cintra Convention, it has always been supposed, was signed in this palace; but lately some persons have discovered that it was not—without, however, discovering where it was signed. Spots of ink on the floor used to be shown, scattered, it was said, from Junot’s pen, thrown down by him in anger after signing his name. Should not it rather have been that of Wellington? The name Seteais! I have been told, is also due to the signing of the Convention; of which, when the officers and soldiers who then filled the building were informed, they gave seven loud Aies ! or hurrahs —not sharing, it would seem, in the vexation of Junot — and in commemoration of the event dubbed the Duque de Marialva’s mansion the Palace of the Seteaies. It is otherwise accounted for by there being an echo in the building which repeats seven syllables.
A pilgrimage to the tiny convent of the Santa Cruz is de rigueur ; and no less so is a visit, en passant to the Pena Verde, the quinta of its founder. Accordingly, burrinhos are again in request for this mountain ride, and as the companion of the former one has returned to Lisbon, I join three other pilgrims, more of strangers than myself, and thus complete uma partida quadrada—too many by two, unless your tete-to-tete companion be a most uncongenial one; for rarely is any clear idea retained of an object of interest—at least, such is my experience, when visited under the distracting influences of a numerous accompanying sight-seeing party. However, in this instance, it is but revisiting old familiar scenes, and besides, the quartette is a sedate one; two parts Spanish, one French, and one English—a very happy mixture; not sufficiently acquainted to be too hilarious, all “unattached” and not likely to become otherwise, yet each disposed, as it seems, to do his or her best to play the agreeable.
The saddles, or side seats, are in better order today, and my donkey is a foot, or a hand, at least, lower than the former one ; as the donkey man, with many an expressive nod and smile, bids me observe. He has himself selected this animal, the pride of his stud for it is a point of honour with him that I should be superbly mounted on this occasion. “A tall donkey,” he says,” não prestando val nada “—is good for nothing—a fact I was not before aware of.
The burrinhos are fresh and frisky—they have not been to market to-day—so they get over the ground quickly, pass the Seteaies in no time, and almost as soon reach the Pena Verde—the quinta of Dom Joao de Castro, the famous viceroy of India. He left it to his heirs, to whose descendants it still belongs, on condition of its remaining a pleasure garden, and that no fruit-tree should be planted in it or any pecuniary advantage be derived from its produce. Yet it is said that the first orange-trees known in Europe were planted in these gardens. In the house, a few old Indian curiosities are still preserved, and an original portrait of Dom Joao de Castro, who died here in 1548. An avenue of magnificent trees leads to a hermitage, or small oratory on the rock of Alvicaras, whence you look over a wide extent of beautifully-diversified country.
From the Pena Verde we took the Collares road, along the side of the mountain, and one of the most charming of the many walks and rides in this lovely region. Its surpassing loveliness is difficult to depict.
All epithets of admiration, all words descriptive of beauty, will have been exhausted and re-exhausted on Cintra, probably, before this fairest spot of earth has been visited—a spot which the coldest, the most apathetic of earth’s sons, the one in the world least impressed by the beauties of nature, could not look upon unmoved. What more shall I tell then of Cintra and Colares? If I should fill my letter with an attempt to convey an idea of the sensations which the contemplation of such scenes has excited in me, or of the emotion I have witnessed in others, I should write of ecstasies and raptures that might perhaps raise a smile, without awakening that corresponding glow of enthusiasm which but a glimpse of the fair scenes themselves would enkindle. Nor by becoming familiar to the eye does their beauty impress you the less; it rather grows upon you, every day, every hour, at every fresh footstep, just as admiration grows and intensifies till it becomes love. I invite you, then, to our Lusitanian Eden. Its beauties must be seen, ere their magic charm can be felt.
And now we will wake up the burrinhos and get on.
But they answer not to the ” Eciho ! eciho ! “—which is Portuguese for “Gee up!”—they hang their heads, and are immovable. Surely they also are entranced.
Have they caught something of their riders’ sensations? Though deep they were not loudly expressed; but there are indications that the pent-up feelings of one or more of these burrinhos are about to be vociferously brayed forth. Heavens! that such discordant sounds should awaken the echoes and rend the air, amid scenes where only the songs of nightingales and such sweet warblers are wont to make it vocal!
Our driver is frantic with indignation. ” Malditos brutos / ” he exclaims, and grinds his white teeth. But peace is restored, and we trot onwards.
Here we begin to climb the serra to wind amidst the huge masses of broken rock, which seem to have been part of some volcano, to ascend the steep incline, to scramble down the rugged, stone-strewed slope, to rise again, catching at the tufty grass, as if that would save us should we chance to tumble down as we turn some sudden angle of the intricate pathway —but no fear of that, the burrinhos are sure-footed, and will bear us lithely over this oft-trodden road in safety to the mountain top—yet, as I said, here we go let us rein up our steeds and admire the charming quinta de Montserrate, once the mountain-home of “England’s wealthiest son;” now the abode of another Englishman, Mr. Cook—in these parts, Visconde de Montserrate.
Whether the modern villa, or palacio as it is called, is built in the same style as Mr. Beckford’s, I know not; but from a description I have read of the latter, I should imagine that at least Mr. Cook’s house much resembles it. It had fallen into a most ruinous state when he purchased the property. Its extreme dilapidation has been accounted for by its having been hastily built—owing to Mr. Beckford’s impatience for its completion—also by the destruction of the building at the hands of the soldiery during the French occupation of Lisbon and Cintra. I have seen only photographs of the interior; but its decorations and furniture are said to be of the most costly kind, as well as in excellent taste, and it contains besides a valuable collection of objects of art..
The situation of the quinta is extremely beautiful. It occupies a projecting mound which commands an uninterrupted view of the valley of Collares, the ocean and the serra. Near the house are broad, smooth, slanting lawns of the freshest green, and an avenue of trees leading up to it. There are plantations of fine old oaks and cedars and a grove of Tangerine orange trees. There are lakes and fountains, and a cascade which in the rainy season becomes a rushing, roaring cataract, dashing down from the mountain-top to the lowest depths of the valley. Ferns of the rarest kinds, beautifully laid out gardens, wooded slopes and parklike grounds, are some of the attractions of the quinta de Montserrate. But it is not easy, I am told, to obtain admission to it.
“I think I can manage it for you,” a gentleman said to me the other day, “if you have a wish to see the interior of the palace and its treasures.”
However, I have not availed myself of this quasipromise to get the gates of Mr. Cook’s palace unbarred for me ; for report says he does not like to have his pretty things looked at, or to be intruded upon by curious people. In this he only imitates his predecessor, Mr. Beckford, and he has certainly full right to do as he will with his own. Greater strictness, I hear, is now observed than formerly, in consequence of a lady having had the misfortune to trip her foot against something that lay upon the floor and to fall against a valuable china vase, which was thus broken to pieces.
Extremely vexatious, no doubt; yet Mr. Cook should not be so ungallant as to suppose that a faux pas is likely to occur in the case of every lady who may effect an entrance into his palace.
I have been shown some amusing verses, or rather doggerel rhymes, apropos of the closed doors of the Montserrate Palace. A party of four Englishmen having landed from a vessel touching at Lisbon, and with but one day allowed to look about them, thought they could not better employ it than in visiting the Castello da Pena and the Quinta de Montserrate.
They were informed that there would be no difficulty in obtaining admission ; but as both the king and Mr. Cook were at Cintra, they thought it better to ” make assurance doubly sure” by first sending a telegram of inquiry. The answer was, they could see the king’s palace, but not Mr. Cook’s ; so they determined to be satisfied with seeing the castello, and set off accordingly.
The civility of the attendants, and the obliging manner in which, as strangers with but a few hours to spare, they were allowed to see more of the castle than they had expected, as Dom Fernando was residing there, so delighted them, that on adjourning to a hotel, and while dinner was preparing, each felt himself inspired, by his gratified feelings on the one hand, and indignation on the other, to sit down and pen a bitter philippic, in which kingly courtesy was contrasted with the churlishness, as they termed it, of a cook.
Why they could not ease their ruffled minds in humble prose it is difficult to say. Perhaps they had been refreshing themselves with fine old Colares, unmindful of, or not knowing, its potency: or, being Englishmen, old port may have heated their brains to a state of poetic fervour; unless rhymes were adopted as having in themselves a peculiar force and stinging power that might serve, in case of need, as barbs to the somewhat dull shafts of satire aimed at poor Mr. C. When I read these epigrammatic effusions they were immortalized on the leaves of an album. I remember two lines of one of them. The first ended in *’a grain of common sense”—that, of course, was the poet’s own; after which followed, by way of completing the rhyme, and at the same time characterizing both the k—g and the c—k, the title of one of Landseer’s well-known pictures. I would rather not be more explicit; but if you think it worth ‘while, no doubt you will soon guess the title and understand how the epithets were applied.
I told this anecdote to my companions to deter them from besieging the gates of the quinta, as they had proposed doing. But that Mr. Cook might not undeservedly be held in mauvaise odeur I thought it right to add that he had expended immense sums in Portugal ; that he had employed in the decoration of his quinta the first artists and best workmen of the country, and had been most liberal in all his arrangements with them ; so much so that, as I was informed, his Portuguese title was conferred on him in acknowledgment of the many benefits which those connected with art and industry owed to him, and that he was generally much esteemed.
How well the burrinhos know the road to Santa Cruz ! They thread their way up the rugged road unerringly. As for the crosses, so far as they now serve for guiding posts, they might all be removed, the donkeys being the surer guides of the two. As soon as the top of the serra is reached, they immediately make for the short descent, for they know whether you are bound, and the poor little convent lies in a sort of hollow.
They will carry you to the entrance, which unaided you would scarcely detect amidst the huge masses of rock rising up around ; it is, in fact, a hole rather than a door. The convent was the smallest and poorest in the kingdom. Its cost to Dom Alvaro de Castro, who constructed—it cannot be said
erected—it, in 1560, in compliance with his father’s dying injunction, was a hundred cruzados, between 10 and 11. The few materials required for it were nearly all on the spot —a rocky cavern, abundance of grey stone, clay, straw, and the bark of the cork-tree, which was to be had on the mountain side. From ten to twenty Franciscan monks passed their lives there in dirt and poverty. One of their number, the “blessed Honorius,” lived to the age of ninety-five, of which the last thirty years were spent in a self-imposed kind of martyrdom, in a wretched stone cave into which he was obliged to crawl on his hands and knees, and when there he could not even extend himself to his full length.
Descending one day to the valley, the holy father chanced to meet on his way a beautiful young girl, who accosted him, and begged him to confess her.
He refused, but told her to go to the convent if she really wished to confess. But the girl persisted in her entreaties that he would confess her then and there; and gave signs of being a wilful as well as a wosome lass, who was determined not to be said nay. St. Honorius, remarking the beauty of the fair suppliant, though he could not entirely withhold the tribute of admiration which beauty must ever command, began to suspect his Satanic majesty of assuming this fair form for the purpose of tempting him.
As soon as the thought flashed across his mind, he made the sign of the cross, fell on his knees, and said a pater noster. Immediately the young girl fled! —”proof positive,” said our informant, “that she was a devil incarnate.”
Honorius, on returning to his convent, sought around it for a retreat that should be even more wretched than his miserable cell, which was, itself, hardly larger than a coffin. The cave, that had been unobserved by him before, stood there—ready for him, it would seem. In it he took up his abode for the rest of his life, hoping, by that long penance, to have expiated, when he died, the crime of having for one moment cast an admiring eye on lovely woman.
The Frenchman of our party, when the old man in charge of the ruins had finished this tale, exclaimed “Comment done ! le bonhomme s’effrayait tant que cela d’une jeune fille et sa beaute du diable ? Que Dieu lui pardonne ! car il etait plus niais que saint.” The Spanish lady— who was, I suspect, un peu divote, for she had listened with most serious attention to the old man’s story—on hearing the Frenchman’s exclamation raised her arched eyebrows still higher, and turning towards me, her dark eyes gave me a glance that spoke “untulerable things.”I returned it as sympathetically as was convenient; but had I been requested to give my opinion in words, I must have agreed with the Frenchman. There are ruins of other convents still further on — the Serra, Penha Longa, and Peninha, the latter once of far more importance than the Santa Cruz. It possessed a wonderful miracle-working image of “Our Lady,” of the miraculous finding of which on the peninha, or little rock, tradition tells a most marvelous story. Only the most determined explorers climb up to these ruins. Years ago it was said that the cork convent was to be restored; hut I find it in the same state still. If about the altar and other parts of the interior there is a slight appearance of further dilapidation, it is not that caused by the hand of time, hut by the breakings and chippings of those idiotic people who are ablicted with a propensity for purloining from such places fragments of stone and wood. Report says that Mr. Cook has lately bought the Santa Cruz and the ground around it, and intends to restore the convent to its original state. Would not it be wiser to leave it as it is?—a heap of stones, that will last as long as the mountain of which they formed a part, and a souvenir of a state of society that can never, it may be hoped, be restored. Our party wishing to see the famous Pedra d’Alvidrar, we descended the mountain on the side towards Colares ; leaving the grandeur of rocks, peaks, and cliffs for picturesque mountain streams, pine woods, and shrubberies, the bay, the myrtle and laurestinus.
The hill slopes, now brown or bare, in spring and early summer, or after refreshing rains, are bright with verdure mingled with flowering heath, pink and white lilies, the wild purple crocus, and hyacinth. But when the noontide sun glows fiercest you may seek here the chestnut-wood—-majestic trees of densest shade that tower above Colares.
As we approach the lovely valley of the Varzea, stretching far away before us are olive-grounds and vineyards, from whose rich fruit the Burgundy of Portugal is produced ; quintas, embosomed in their orange groves and gardens ; Collares’ far-famed orchards, the peach, the plum, the pear, the almond, apricot, and cherry; and issuing from the lake, or Tanque de Varzea, and winding through apple grounds and banks of fragrant verdure, the bright little Rio das Maçãs, or apples’ river, glides onward to the sea.
Near the town of Collares is a celebrated quinta, known as the Quinta do Dias. Few persons who visit Collares fail to go through its lovely gardens and Grounds —remarkable even where all around is loveliness— or to ascend its lofty Belvedere; once there is a prospect so extensive, beautiful, and varied, that once seen can hardly be forgotten. “Wildly grand, enchanting, romantic, it must remain engraven on the memory, “a joy for ever.”
Some of our party had the folly to add to the mass of nonsense scribbled over every part of the Belvedere where a word or letter could be squeezed in. Examining these effusions, the Frenchman’s eye lighted on the following:
*’ Do espirito de poesia
i a morada encantadora.”
“It is the enchanting abode of the spirit of poetry.”
THE QUINTA DO DIAS.
Some one less fluent had written beneath it “é verdade” —’tis true. Our friend, remorselessly clearing away the next effusion to make room for his own, wrote beneath the above, “Erreur! erreur!
L’esprit n’existe pas ici; les prosateurs sont chasse”
This was meant to be keenly cutting and spirituel.
I was so dull as to think it a niaiserie rather than a criticism; of course I did not say so, but assumed an expression of ” dear me, how clever ! ” The Frenchman handed his pencil to the Spaniard, Thus invited, with true Spanish courtesy, he wrote in French—”Partout on se trouve un Français, un esprit existe.”
The Frenchman bowed, and, seeking perhaps another compliment, prayed the senhora — the sister of the Spaniard—to write a line also. She declined; “she feared to venture after the display of “tant d’ esprit.”
It came lastly to the Englishwoman’s turn.”Would she write the thought of her heart at that moment?” She had a strong objection to such defacement of walls and windows; but as they were already so thoroughly scrawled over that a word or two more or less could not in any sense do further damage, ” if monsieur would be her amanuensis she would dictate two words.” Of course he could not refuse; indeed “he felt himself honored. What should he write?
“Immediately under Sua Excellencia’s line write est possible.” He smiled, and wrote the words in a large bold hand; then, with a very low bow, said, ” Maintenant je vais signer pour madame.
After this display of small wit and much folly, which perhaps amused us all, we looked once more, long and lingeringly and loth to turn from it, upon the lovely panorama spread out for miles around. Then, leaving the Quinta do Dias, we hastened on to the Fojo; for time had slipped away with marvellous quickness, and there yet remained the Pedra d’Alvidrar to get, if possible, a glimpse of.
But, except for the grandeur and sublimity of the coast view, neither Fojo nor Pedra need detain us long. The cliffs thereabouts are broken and shattered into a thousand fantastic shapes. You might fancy those crags, splintered and wave-worn and apparently grotesquely carved, the fragments of ruined pillars and broken arches that would be swept away by the force of the wave now rolling in—a wall of waters that breaks furiously over them in cataracts of foam. The Rock of Lisbon, terminating the Cintra range, stands boldly forward, as if defiant of that wild Atlantic which roars and thunders at its base; tossing itself madly amongst the huge grey stones, scattered in picturesque confusion on the rugged beach, and rushing with headlong fury into cliffs and caverns, issuing from them in long streams of froth and showers of spray.
And this is but the fretting of the ocean against its rocky barriers on a breezy summer’s day. How grandly awful, then, must be the scene when the storm is raging, the lightning flashing, and the pealing thunder reverberating in the mountains “Fojo, excellencias. O Fojo! “exclaims our guide; then turns away and slyly crosses himself. I caught him in the very act. ” Eu ter duvida minha senhora” he says. He would have me not be alarmed.
It is a mere habit of his to cross himself when he comes to the Fojo. There is nothing in it, he assures me, sotto voce, lest it should reach the ears of the “Hespanhola”, whom he probably considers more sensitive touching such matters than myself. For the English, as “Protestant heretics, “are generally supposed to be infidels, believing in nothing, and caring for nothing that is looked upon here as religion; yet, very good-naturedly, allowed to worship God in their own” temple,” and in their own lax way without let or hindrance, and as they have never been allowed in Spain. However, here we are at the Fojo; and our man draws off to a safe distance with his burrinhos.
The Fojo or cavern, is a deep natural cavity in a large rock. Round and large at the opening, it narrows as it descends perpendicularly to the sea, which rushes through it with a roaring sound that is really deafening. The rock is a favourite resort of sea-birds, whose shrieks and wailing cries, mingling with the tumult and wild commotion of the waters beneath, form a horrid din that often shakes weak nerves, and warns off the visitor rather than invites his approach.
No wonder, then, that the country people of this district regard the rock with some degree of superstitious dread, and tell strange legends connected with it, in which they evidently put implicit faith. According to one of these fabulous tales, the bottom of the Fojo is far, far down beneath the sea ; even so far as the mouth of the bottomless pit : and the wild sea-birds which congregate upon, or hover over it, often making both day and ” night hideous” with their sharp, shrill, querulous notes, are spirits—not of the blessed—who in sea-bird shape are permitted for a short space to revisit earth, and with the whirr of waters in their ears and the taunting voices of demons crying to them from below, to bewail and lament on that lone rock the crimes committed by them in human form. I like not the Fojo; yet with its angry roar, its flock of screeching seabirds, and its dreary legends, it lends a weird, romantic interest to a wild sea view.
Nor are the Blondin-like feats performed at the Pedra d’Alvidrar by men and boys of an adjacent village pleasant to witness. The pedra is a grand rocky headland projecting over a confused heap of broken sunken rocks, and rising with a slight incline to the height of a hundred and seventy-five feet. Its surface though somewhat rugged, furrowed, and rucked by the storms and tempests it has for centuries faced, affords no projection or ledge broad enough for a resting-place for the sole of the foot; yet up and down its sides, following each other with rapidity, men and boys run in monkey-fashion, clinging to the rock with their thumbs and great toes, and never lowering the heel.
All this they will do unrest nested, in the expectation of receiving a few vintems from lookers-on. It is a spectacle that excites most uncomfortable sensations of anxious terror; for one failure in step or touch hurls the adventurous climber to certain death in the yawning abyss beneath the rock. But accidents are almost unknown, and the children are trained to this climbing from very early years, practicing at first, probably, on less perilous rocks in the vicinity of the pedra.
“Why this rock is called the Arbiter, or Judgment Stone, I cannot learn. It is not a modern appellation, and the men of the village of Almoçageme have for generations past made it their boast that they were able to descend and to scale with impunity the sides of this dangerous pedra. To make the attempt must, at all events, have been a test of courage, and the rock may thus have acquired the name of the Stone of Judgment. But it is growing late; so we hasten to bid adieu to the pedra.
We are on our way back from Colares to Cintra. And what a lovely road it is! Day is declining. The moon is up, but her rays do but palely gleam through the lofty tops of the fine old cork and chestnut trees.
The air begins to be more sweetly perfumed by the breath of flowers, and soft zephyrs flutter amidst the foliage. Evening is not yet, ’tis approaching only.
The hour of departing day—for twilight can here be hardly said to exist—is loveliest of all. The sky is painted with “colours dipt in heaven;” and as the first fresh odorous breezes of the balmy night are inhaled, a draught of life’s elixir seems to run through the veins, giving fresh vigour and buoyancy to the spirit, and enabling you, for a time at least, to cast aside all cares and anxious thoughts and ” burthens of humanity.”
As we rode by the Marialva Palace the beau monde who now throng Cintra, had congregated in full force on the promenade to enjoy the lovely evening. The usual dinner-hour had passed when we arrived, and as fine old Collares, resembling rich, ripe E; Ousillon, with the famed Cintra cheesecakes, had been our sole repast, we dined en partie carré and as we sipped our coffee and smoked our “cigarettes” arranged a new excursion for the morrow.
A report, almost daily circulated and as often contradicted as premature, that the king, Dom Luis, and the queen, Donna Maria Pia, may be expected immediately at Cintra, induced my new friends to propose a visit to the palacio real, which, in case of the arrival of their majesties, would in great part be closed to visitors, if not entirely so to Spanish ones. But at present the royal family continue at the palace of Queluz, and it would seem to be their favourite summer residence; the gardens and grounds, planned after those of Marly, and considered the finest in Portugal of their kind, probably compensating for the otherwise dreary situation of that royal abode. This morning, however, we directed our steps towards the palacio real, intending afterwards to pay a visit to Mafra. The real interest of the palace, selon moi, lies in the mine of sad and romantic history connected with it, to exhaust which scarcely would the pages of a volume, much less those of the longest letter. You will not, therefore, expect me to enter into any minute description of its confused style of architecture, the well-marked traces it yet retains of its Moorish origin, or the additions and reconstructions of its later Christian kings. Probably but a small part of the present edifice is really the work of the Moors. Dom Joao the First almost entirely rebuilt it, and several of his successors have added to and repaired it; though in all these changes and modifications the original Moorish designs may have been more or less preserved—as, indeed, its terraces, its gilded fountains, its baths, oriental windows, &c., bear witness.
It has its Hall of swans, of magpies, and of arms or shields—deriving their names from the subjects of their finely-painted ceilings, and with all of which some romantic tale or legend is connected. The sala das pegas, or magpie saloon, owes its curiously-painted ceiling to an act of gallantry on the part of Dom Joao the First, a mighty hunter, and the conqueror of the Spaniards at Aljubarota, Going ” early one morning on a hunting expedition, as he came down the terrace he gathered a flower from a rosebush. Chancing to meet one of the young maids of honour as, with the rose in his hand, he passed through the sala, he presented the flower to her. She curtsied on receiving it, and the king stooped and kissed her on the cheek, at the very moment that Queen Philippa—the English Princess of Lancaster—was entering the sala by a side door. Naturally, she did not look on this interesting scene with much approval ; but the royal Dom Joao, bowing low to his consort, exclaimed, laughingly, as he left the sala, ” e por hem, minha senhora, por hem ” — meaning that it was from good feeling only, and that no wrong was done to her. Probably Queen Philippa was not too well pleased with the king’s mode of showing his good feeling towards her ladies; for it got whispered about the palace that the young maid of honour was much in the king’s good graces, and spiteful tongues repeated, with many expressive nods and smiles, “e por bem, por hemy This coming to the king’s ears, he determined to rebuke and silence this palace gossip and slander. The sala by his order was closed for a time. When it was reopened, the queen and her court came to see its new beautifully-painted ceiling. Behold, it was covered with magpies!—just as we see it now. Each bird has a rose in its claw, and holds a label in its beak inscribed with the words “por bem”, which with great gallantry the king assumed as a motto, applying it to the incident of the rose and the kiss in the sense of our “On y soit qui mal y pense.”
The sala das armas is a splendid saloon, added to the palace by Dom Manoel in 1515. The ceiling is dome-shaped, and was painted by the heraldic painter, Duarte d’Armas, by command of the king. In the centre are the royal arms ; around, are grouped the seven escutcheons of the infantes, and surrounding these, in two circles, are seventy-four shields bearing the arms of the peers of the realm, each shield depending from the neck of a stag couchant. They are arranged in circles and in alphabetical order, to denote that none take precedence of the others. On the four walls, just beneath the cornice, is written in large golden letters — “Pois com esforço, e leaes servigos forao ganhados, Com estes e outros taes, devem de ser conservados.” “As these by valour and loyal services were gained, By them and others like them must they be maintained.”
The arms of several noble families were omitted, because they had not yet been determined with sufficient accuracy; for until Dom Manoel conceived the idea of putting an end to the confusion that existed respecting the armorial bearings of the Portuguese nobility, very little attention had been given to the subject. Monuments, chapels, and archives were by his order inspected for the purpose of ascertaining with correctness what heraldic devices had been borne by the families of the nobles then composing his court, and these, with such additions as at the time were granted, were newly designed and illuminated, and placed in a book which was deposited in the archives of the Torre do Tombo. The arms were, in 1759, erased from the shields of the Duque d’Aveiro, and the Marquez de Tavora, who were accused of being concerned in the plot to assassinate the king, Dom José, and who, with the Marqueza and other persons, were put to death with extremest cruelty on the caes at Belem, in the same year.
There is in the palace a magnificent marble chimney-piece, with carvings by Michael Angelo. It was a present from Pope Leo the Tenth to Dom Manoel, who in 1514 sent his ambassador, Tristao da Cunha, to Rome, with so numerous a retinue, and with so much pomp and state, that nothing to equal them had before been seen in Europe. This period is known in Portuguese history as the idade de ouro— the golden age ; and the king, Dom Manoel, is surnamed ” venturoso”—the fortunate. Por Vasco da Gama had then discovered India and other places ; the treasures of the East—its gold, diamonds, and pearls — poured into Portugal, and the smallest of European kingdoms became the richest. The first fruits of these great discoveries had been sent to Pope Leo—jewels, rich vestments, and costly spices; and amongst other things are mentioned a tame on an enormous elephant, the first that were brought to Europe. In return for these gifts the Michael Angelo chimney-piece was sent back. With his own share of the first fruits of the conquest of India, Dom Manoel began to build the splendid church of Santa Maria de Belem, and the adjoining monastery, for the Jeronymite monks, as a thank offering to God. A spiral staircase in the palace leads to a large court or hall, decorated with a pretty trickling marble fountain. Upon this court open several of the private apartments, which are all simply yet elegantly decorated and furnished. Others look upon an exceedingly pretty terraced garden, whence there are charming views of the mountains, the village, and the sea. Throughout the palace are numerous fountains, reservoirs and baths. A shower-bath room, of singular construction, and said to be one of the Moorish remains, projects its waters from unseen sources in fine showers from the walls and ceiling to the centre of the room.
There is shown also the chamber in which the famous Dom Sebastian held his last council of state, during which the crown fell from his head—a forewarning as was supposed, but which the king refused to give heed to, that the African expedition his ministers had assembled to consult with him upon, and from which he never returned, would terminate fatally. You may, too, look into that small room with the tiled floor. The bricks are worn away by the pacing to and from of Dom Affonso the Sixth, who was imprisoned in it for several years, and was only released by sudden death, while hearing mass, from the captivity in which—at the instigation of the Jesuits, whom he had hated and perhaps oppressed—he was held by his wife and brother, who, without waiting for a dispensation from Home, had married; the latter governing the kingdom, during Dom Affonso’s life, as regent. The kitchens are on a grand scale. Those two gigantic tapering towers, having something the appearance of minarets, and which so strike everyone who sees the building for the first time—for whether they are intended as useful or ornamental appendages to it seems difficult to decide—are the chimneys. They descend to the floor and divide the whole space of the kitchen between them. They are furnished with windows, and thus serve to admit light as well as to carry off smoke. How they were used formerly was not explained, but the smoke is now carried up them by an iron pipe connected with a row of stoves. I believe, that with the little knowledge we already possessed of the mysterious ins and outs, labyrinths, and vaulted passages, the stories, the legends, &c., of this Portuguese Alhambra—the subdued splendour of whose richly variegated marbles has been by some persons more admired than the golden grandeur of the Moorish buildings of Granada—we should have seen more, and have known more concerning it when we left, had we been allowed to walk through it alone, than we did after being led from room to room in follow-my-leader fashion, with the three-thousand-times- told tale of a guide droning in our ears. But of course, that could not be. The Frenchman’s stock of Portuguese, too, was small, so that the guide’s information frequently required translating for his enlightenment, and that did not diminish its irksomeness. Generally, however, the guide’s story had a somnambulistic effect on me; and only when through half-closed eyes I became aware that anything of particular interest was before me did I wake up. Then I hung back a little; sought to linger in the rear, to contemplate fancy free, and out of earshot of that hated guide’s monotonous twang, the objects that had arrested my attention. But it would not do, for the man kept too sharp an
eye on us. Pearing that he might have to go over his story twice, he held us well together, and no sooner perceived that one or the other lagged a little, than he turned back in pursuit, and with a most polite “ Sua excellencia ha de perdoar me. Suas excellencias estão esperando sua excellencia “—” Your Excellency will pardon me. Their Excellencies are waiting for year Excellency “—brought on the stray sheep to the flock. It was too late when we left to think of Mafra, which is distant at least three leagues from Cintra, and the road, as soon as the confines of Cintra and Collares’ fertile valleys are left behind, dreary and desolate in the extreme. We therefore took a pleasant stroll through a lovely green lane, and by a pathway branching from it got into a sort of woodland glen. Amongst fine old chestnuts, walnut, elder, and cork trees were a variety of beautiful ferns, mossy stones, and willows drooping over the now dry bed of some rivulet that in the spring comes leaping and foaming from the mountain top. Suddenly our Erenchman bethought him of the Hippodromo, now constructing for the Equestrian Club, and proposed that we should retrace our steps and have a look at it. I believe he was growing rather weary of the ecstasies of his companions, and thought us—as, indeed, he said we were—hopelessly romantic. So we yielded to his suggestion, and turned back from the lovely wooded pathway we had chanced upon to learn how le sport, or according to the Portuguese ” sport,” was prospering at Cintra. Luckily we met our donkey-man returning from an expedition with half-a-dozen of his choicest animals—so he assured us —and ” all the fresher for having just taken the air for an hour or so before we wanted them.” And the choicest of them—as he observed in a gallant “aside” to me—was for “A illustrissima senhora Ingleza.” There is something pleasant as well as advantageous in knowing oneself to be a favourite—if only of a donkeyman at Cintra. For here it is no mean privilege, I assure you, to be able to command the services of the steadiest-going,
surest-footed burrlnho, and the watchful attention of his owner while on your journey.
My companions complimented me on having so well established myself in Antonio’s good graces. For I had no need to call out on the road, “Ho, Antonio !venha ca, homen “—” Come here, man “—Antonio walked near me, like a faithful squire, and when opportunity offered told me stories or legends of certain fountains or strangely-shaped masses of rock that we passed on our way. But he assured himself occasionally that his words were not wasted by inquiring,
” Sua Excellencia intends o que eu quer dizer? “
” Her Excellency understands what I am saying ?
—for my being able to understand Portuguese evidently excites his admiration, in both senses of the word. He is a good, honest, civil fellow, this donkeyman, and the humble servant of the senhoras. A preux chevalier is poor Antonio, in his way.
It is not easy to find an eligible spot for a racing ground in Cintra. But races there are to be. They are fixed for the latter end of next month, and to take place at a spot called the campo raso, or the plain. “Os jockeys,” says the programme, are all to be “gentlemen riders;” which words, with ” O stand,” and “O turf,” have become naturalized Portuguese, and when pronounced, ct Portugueza, you would doubt that they had had an English origin.
At the Hippodromo there is a ride of 1,300 metres in extent, and 16 in breadth, and at one end of it an amphitheatre, with seats for 800 persons. The tribune and royal boxes divide it in the centre, and above them is a large orchestra for a band—for nothing is complete in Portugal without a military band and thousands of rockets. “O stand,” which will be sacred to the members of ” O clube equestre” of which the Infante Dom Augusto is president, will be very elegantly decorated. The stables and all the usual offices are extremely well appointed.
The heat, of course, makes it necessary to put off the races to as late a period of the Cintra season as possible. I am sorry for it, as I must be elsewhere. I should like to see the races, for the Portuguese are excellent riders, yet not quite in the style perhaps, likely to make good jockeys. A few fine horses from the royal stables will run, and others which are also Well spoken of. It is to be regretted that amongst all the improvements that have been, and are to be made in Lisbon, its numerous ups and downs preclude the hope of our ever seeing there a Bois de Boulogne, or E/otten K,ow. Yet when Aterro is carried on nearer to Belem they might contrive for us a “Lady’s Mile.” It would add greatly to the attractions of that lovely city if you could only canter up and down the centre of the present Passeio publico. The Queen and a few English ladies there could set the example, and I know several senhoras who would very willingly follow it.
Numerous balls, al fresco festas, and other entertainments are promised at Cintra for the ensuing month. It is still something of a novelty for the Portuguese ladies to assemble much beyond their own family circles or re-unions. But this is owing rather to the yet existing influence of old customs than from any exclusiveness, or reserve of manners and disposition. They have, indeed, a talent for society, a natural ease and grace, which springs from the best source—kindly and amiable feelings, and a desire to please.
“We rode into the little town, and there left our burrinhos. While settling our accounts with Antonio we were surrounded by a tribe of beggars, many of them, I fancy, amateurs, induced to solicit an alms by the sight of money passing from hand to hand. These were mostly women and children; and they were as persistent and clamorous in urging us, ” for the sake of the Mother of God,” or ” by the wounds of Jesus Christ,” to make sure of our souls’ salvation by bestowing esmolinhas all round, as were an idiotic and a blind boy, and two or three tottering old men. A few vintems to these, and “Paciencia, paciencia”.
“Go with God; it cannot be now”—to the others, scarcely sufficed to disperse them. One woman begged for the gaol, which was close at hand; and several of the prisoners, with their heads thrust between the iron gratings, were holding a very animated conversation with people outside. A basket, let down by a string, was being hauled up, filled with tobacco and other small luxuries, for which one prisoner had thrown down money to a woman below to buy for him at a shop opposite. In the cells, or rooms on the ground-floor, there was a terrible uproar—such howling and rushing about, as if some rough games were being played. Three or four of these ruffians came to the windows or gratings, and called to us, and made signs that we should give them an esmolinha also. Two soldiers on guard were pacing to and fro before the gaol, but gave no attention whatever to what was going on. The gaol is really a sad blot on the little town. It reminds one of the Portuguese gaol at Loanda.