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* Donna Maria the First ', the country' enjoyed a great share of
courtly and commercial prosperity. At Lisbon, one of the Author's first visits was to the Marialva Palace, to pay his respects to the Grand Prior. The scene is described in the Author's most brilliant style.
• The court-yard, filled with shabby two-wheeled chaises, put me in mind of the entrance of a French post-house ; a recollection not weakened by the sight of several ample heaps of manure, between which we made the best of our way up the great staircase, and had near tumbled over a swingeing sow and her numerous progeny, which escaped from under our legs, with bitter squeakings.
. This hubbub announced our arrival; so out came the Grand Prior, his nephew, the old Abade, and a troop of domestics. All great Portuguese families are infested with herds of these, in general, illfavoured dependants, and none more than the Marialvas, who dole out every day three hundred portions, at least, of rice and other eatables, to as many greedy devourers.
• The Grand Prior had shed his pontifical garments, and did the honours of the house, and conducted us with much agility all over the apartments, and through the manège, where the old Marquis, his brother, though at a very advanced age, displayed feats of the most consummate horsemanship. He seems to have a decided taste for clocks, compasses, and timekeepers ; I counted no less than ten in his bed-chamber, four or five in full swing, making a loud hissing ; they were chiming and striking away (for it was exactly six) when I followed my conductor up and down half-a-dozen staircases, into a saloon hung with rusty damask.
“A table in the centre of this antiquated apartment was covered with rarities brought forth for our inspection; curious shell-work, ivory crucifixes, models of ships, housings embroidered with feathers, and
knows what besides, stinking of camphor enough to knock one down.
• Whilst we were staring with all our eyes, and holding our handkerchiefs to our noses, the Count of V. Viceroy of Algarve, made his appearance, in grand pea-green and pink and silver gala, straddling and making wry faces, as if some disagreeable accident had befallen him. He was, however, in a most gracious mood, and received our eulogiums upon his relation, the new bishop, with much complacency. Our
conversation was limpingly carried on in a great variety of broken languages. Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French, and English, had each their turn in rapid succession. The subject of all this polyglottery was the glories and piety of John V., regret for the extinction of the Jesuits, and the reverse for the death of Pombal, whose memory he holds in something not distinctly removed from execration. This flood of eloquence was accompanied by the strangest, most buffoonical grimaces and slobberings, I ever beheld; for the Viceroy, having a perennial moistness of mouth, drivels at every syllable.
• One must not, however, decide too hastily upon outward appearances. This slobbering, canting personage is a distinguished statesman and good officer, pre-eminent amongst the few who have seen service, and given proofs of prowess and capacity.
• To escape the long-winded narrations which were pouring warm into my ear, I took refuge near a harpsichord, where Policarpio, one of the first tenors in the Queen's chapel, was singing and accompanying himself. The curtains of the door of an adjoining dark apartment being half drawn, gave me a transient glimpse of Donna Henriquetta de L., Don Pedro's sister, advancing one moment and retiring the next, eager to approach and examine us exotic beings, but not venturing to enter the saloon during her mother's absence. She appeared to me a most interesting girl, with eyes full of bewitching languor. But of what do I talk? - I only saw her pale and evanescent, as one fancies one sees objects in a dream. А group
of lovely children (her sister's, I believe) sat at her feet upon the ground, resembling genii, partially concealed by folds of drapery, in some grand allegorical picture by Rubens or Paul Veronese.
• Night approaching, lights glimmered on the turrets, terraces, and every part of the strange huddle of buildings of which this moriscolooking palace is composed. Half the family were engaged in reciting the litanies of saints, the
other in freaks and frolics--perhaps of no very edifying nature. The monotonous staccato of the guitar, accompanied by the low, soothing murmur of female voices, singing modinhas, formed altogether a strange though not unpleasant combination of sounds.
• I was listening to them with avidity, when a glare of flambeaux, and the noise of a splashing and dashing of water, called us out upon the verandas, in time to witness a procession scarcely equalled since the days of Noah. I doubt whether his ark contained a more heterogeneous collection of animals than issued from a scalera with fifty oars, which had just landed the old Marquis of M. and his son Don José, attended by a swarm of musicians, poets, bull-fighters, grooms, monks, dwarfs, and children of both sexes, fantastically dressed.
• The whole party, it seems, were returned from a pilgrimage to some saint's nest or other on the opposite shore of the Tagus. First jumped out a hump-backed dwarf, blowing a little squeaking trumpet three or four inches long ;-then a pair of led captains, apparently commanded by a strange old swaggering fellow in a showy uniform, who, I was told, had acted the part of a sort of brigadier-general in some sort of an island. Had it been Barataria, Sancho would soon have sent him about his business ; for, if we believe the scandalous chronicle of Lisbon, a more impudent buffoon, parasite, and pilferer, has seldom existed.
Close at his heels stalked a savage-looking monk, as tall as Samson, and two Capuchin friars, heavily laden, but with what sort of provision I am ignorant: next came a very slim and sallow-faced apothecary, in deep sables,-completely answering in gait and costume the figure one fancies to one's self of Senhor Apuntador in Gil Blas,followed by a half-crazed improvisatore, spouting verses at us as he passed under the balustrades against which we were leaning.
• He was hardly out of hearing, before a confused rabble of watermen and servants, with bird-cages, lanterns, baskets of fruit, and chaplets of flowers, came gamboling along to the great delight of a bevy of children ; who, to look more like the inhabitants of heaven than even nature designed, had light fluttering wings attached to their rose-coloured shoulders. Some of these little theatrical angels were extremely beautiful, and had their hair most coquettishly arranged in ringlets
• As soon as the contents, animal and vegetable, of the principal scalera, and three or four other barges in its train, had been deposited in their respective holes, corners, and roosting-places, I received an invitation from the old Marquis to partake of a collation in his apartment. Not less, I am certain, than fifty servants were in waiting ; and, exclusive of half-a-dozen wax torches, which were borne in state before us, above a hundred tapers of different sizes were lighted up in the range of rooms, intermingled with silver braziers and cassolettes, diffusing a very pleasant perfume.
• I found the master of all this magnificence most courteous, affable, and engaging. There is an urbanity and good-humour in his looks, gestures, and tone of voice, that prepossesses instantaneously in his favour, and justifies the universal popularity he enjoys, and the affectionate name of Father, by which the Queen and royal family often address him. All the favours of the crown have been heaped upon him by the present and preceding sovereigns; a tide of prosperity uninterrupted even during the grand-vizariat of Pombal. « Act as you judge wisest with the rest of my nobility,” used to say the King Don Joseph to this redoubted minister ; “ but beware how you interfere with the Marquis of Marialva!”. In consequence of this decided predilection, the Marialva palace became a sort of rallying point, an asylum for the oppressed ; and its master, in more than one instance, a shield against the thunderbolts of a too powerful minister. The recollections of these times seem still to be kept alive; for the heart-felt respect, the filial adoration, I saw paid the old Marquis, was indeed, most remarkable ; his slightest glances were obeyed, and the person on whom they fell, seemed gratified and animated. His sons, the Marquis of Tancos and Don José de Meneses, never approached to offer him any thing without bending the knee; and the Conde de Villaverde, the heir of the great House of Anjeja, as well as the Viceroy of Algarve, stood in the circle which was formed around him, receiving a kind or gracious word with the same thankful earnestness as courtiers who hang upon the smiles and favour of their sovereign. I shall long remember the grateful sensations with which this scene of reciprocal kindness filled me: it appeared an interchange of amiable sentiments : beneficence diffused without guile or affectation, and protection received without sullen or abject servility.
• How preferable is patriarchal government of this nature, to the cold theories pedantic sophists would establish, and which, should success attend their selfish, atheistical ravings, bid fair to undermine the best and surest props of society. When parents cease to be honoured by their children, and the feelings of grateful subordination in those of helpless age or condition are unknown, kings will soon cease to reign, and republics to be governed by the councils of experience; anarchy, rapine, and massacre will walk the earth, and the abode of demons be transferred from hell to our unfortunate planet. Vol. II., pp. 37–46.
We can make room for only one more extract; and it must be taken from the visit to the Grande Chartreuse in 1787, which is described not in the Author's most characteristic, but his highest vein. Gray's sublime Ode had inspired the passionate desire to penetrate the sacred precincts,-' to hear the language of their
falling waters', and throw himself into the gloom of their forests; and the workings of his mind, on approaching the embowered enclosure, are described with an elaborateness bordering more nearly on affectation than is at all usual with Mr. Beckford. On arriving before the stout oaken gate which closed up the en
trance to this unknown region', he felt at his heart" a certain awe, that brought to mind the sacred terror of those in ancient days who were going to be admitted into the Eleusinian mys
teries.' His guide gave two knocks; after a solemn pause the gate was slowly opened ; and, continues the Writer :
• I now found myself in a narrow dell, surrounded on every side by peaks of the mountains, rising almost beyond my sight, and shelving downwards till their bases were hidden by the foam and spray of the water, over which hung a thousand withered and distorted trees. The rocks seemed crowding upon me, and, by their particular situation, threatened to obstruct every ray of light; but, notwithstanding the menacing appearance of the prospect, I still kept following my guide up' a craggy ascent, partly hewn through a rock, and bordered by the trunks of ancient fir-trees, which formed a fantastic barrier, till we came to a dreary and exposed promontory, impending directly over the dell.
· The woods are here clouded with darkness, and the torrents, rushing with additional violence, are lost in the gloom of the caverns below; every object, as I looked downwards from my path, that hung midway between the base and the summit of the cliff, was horrid and woeful. The channel of the torrent sunk deep amidst frightful crags, and the pale willows and wreathed roots spreading over it, answered my ideas of those dismal abodes, where, according to the Druidical mythology, the ghosts of conquered warriors were bound. I shivered whilst I was regarding these regions of desolation, and, quickly lifting up my eyes to vary the scene, I perceived a range of whitish cliffs, glistening with the light of the sun, to emerge from these melancholy forests.
On a fragment that projected over the chasm, and concealed for a moment its terrors, I saw a cross, on which was written Via COELI. The cliffs being the heaven to which I now aspired, we deserted the edge of the precipice, and ascending, came to a retired nook of the rocks, in which several copious rills had worn irregular grottoes. Here we reposed an instant, and were enlivened with a few sunbeams, piercing the thickets, and gilding the waters that bubbled from the rock ; over which hung another cross, inscribed with this short
sentence, which the situation rendered wonderfully pathetic, O SPES UNICA ! the fervent exclamation of some wretch disgusted with the world, whose only consolation was found in this retirement.
• We quitted this solitary cross to enter a thick forest of beechtrees, that screened, in some measure, the precipices on which they grew, catching however, every instant, terrifying glimpses of the torrent below. Streams gushed from every crevice on the cliffs, and falling over the mossy roots and branches of the beech, hastened to join the great torrent, athwart which I, every now and then, remarked certain tottering bridges; and sometimes could distinguish a Carthusian crossing over to his hermitage, that just peeped above the woody labyrinths on the opposite shore.
Whilst I was proceeding amongst the innumerable trunks of the beech-trees, my guide pointed out to me a peak rising above the others, which he called the Throne of Moses. .... Having left these woods behind, and crossing a bridge of many lofty arches, I shuddered once more at the impetuosity of the torrent ; and, mounting still higher, came at length to a kind of platform, before two cliffs, joined by an arch of rock, under which we were to pursue our road. Below, we beheld again innumerable streams, turbulently precipitating themselves from the woods, and lashing the base of the mountains, mossed over with a dark sea-green. In this deep hollow, such mists and vapours prevailed, as hindered my prying into its recesses ; besides, such was the dampness of the air, that I hastened gladly from its neighbourhood, and, passing under the second portal, beheld with pleasure the sunbeams gilding the Throne of Moses. • It was now about ten o'clock, and my guide assured me I should
cover the convent. Upon this information I took new courage, and continued my route on the edge of the rocks, till we struck into another gloomy grove. After turning about it for some time, we entered again into the glare of daylight, and saw a green valley, skirted by ridges of cliffs and sweeps of wood before us. Towards the further end of this inclosure, on a gentle acclivity, rose the revered turrets of the Carthusians, which extended in a long line on the brow of the hill: beyond them, a woody amphitheatre, majestically presents itself, terminated by spires of rock and promontories lost amongst the clouds. The roar of the torrent was now but faintly distinguishable, and all the scenes of horror and confusion I had passed, were succeeded by a sacred and profound calm. I traversed the valley with a thousand sensations I despair of describing, and stood before the gate of the convent with as much awe as some novice or candidate newly arrived to solicit the holy retirement of the order.
• As admittance is more readily granted to the English than to ala most any other nation, it was not long before the gates opened'; and whilst the porter ordered our horses to the stable, we entered a court watered by two fountains, and built round with lofty edifices, characterized by a noble simplicity. The interior portal opening discovered an arched aisle, extending till the perspective nearly met, along which windows, but scantily distributed between the pilasters, ad mitted a pale, solemn light, just sufficient to distinguish the objects with a picturesque uncertainty. We had scarcely set our feet on the