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CINTRA, MAFRA, AND MADRID.
Visit to Cintra in Autumn,-in the Spring.Natural Scenery:-Houses,Mountains. - The Sea. Montserrat. -- Palaces. - Mafra, its Palace.-Convent.
Organs. - Musical Bells. English Influence. - Leave Lisbon for Madrid.- Smugglers. - Robbers. – Prejudice against Foreigners.-Royalists. — Volunteers. — Carlists. - Croakers. – A Sail on the Tagus. - Our Lady of Attalia. - Porters. - A Cabin Scene. — Posadas. - Roads. – Smugglers, their Mode of Life. – A Night Scene. Armour. - Sketches of my Companions. — Our_Road. — - Pigs. – Turkeys. — Cork Trees. The Olive. - Fortresses. - Estramoz. – Elvas. — Badajoz.- National Hatred. - Smuggling: - Music. — Arrive at Badajoz. Cavallo Blanco. The Landlady. - Servant Boy. – Recruits, mode of treating them. -Drilling. – Manuel Godoy. – The Queen Regent. — Battle of Badajoz. - The Cathedral. - Paintings. – Leave Badajoz. – A Parting Scene. - My Fellow-Passengers. — The Mayoral.- Our Galera. – Postilions. — Merida.Truxillo. – Meeting of Friends. — A Murder. - Talavera, Battle there. Spanish Ferocity. – Flocks of Sheep. — Sheepfolds. — Shepherds.--Christ
- Robbers. Severe Cold, - Madrid.
To Cintra, that earthly Paradise, I made repeated pilgrimages during our visit at Lisbon. It is about sixteen miles from the city, and lies along the sides of the mountains of the same name, the highest point of which is called by mariners, the Rock of Lisbon. My first visit there was late in Autumn, and though there was then much verdure and beauty, still, the sear and yellow leaf, the emblem of decay and death, gave a tinge of sadness to the scene, which harmonized full well with the unbroken quiet of the place. The proud, the wealthy, and the noble had left this delightful retreat to mingle again in the busy scenes of active life, and their various dwellings, from the royal palace, down to the tradesman's cottage were wellnigh tenantless, the birds sang unmolested among the beauteous bowers and lovely gardens which on every gentle eminence and in each deeply shaded glen, enclosed those tasteful dwellings where but lately, beauty, wealth, and fashion had revelled with delight.
My first view of this charming landscape was from Penha Verde, a little hillock which rises amid the thickly-wooded pleasuregrounds of that famous hero and discoverer, Don John De Castro, and near the spot which, just before his death in India, he selected as the burial place of his heart, and where
it was afterwards deposited. The scenery below and around was peculiarly striking and beautiful, embracing the rude mountain cliffs, the dark ravine, the shady glen, the fertile valley, and rolling ocean. The following morning a more perfect view of the same delightful landscape was enjoyed from one of the overhanging mountain peaks. With such scenes before him, well might the Author of Childe Harold say, —
“ Lo, Cintra's glorious Eden intervenes
In variegated maze of mount and glen.
Who to the awestruck world unlocked Elysium's gates." My second visit to Cintra was in the Spring, when surrounding nature was decked with radiant beauty, and breathed forth richest fragrance. The orange and lemon trees were laden with their golden fruit, while the peach, the lilac, and a thousand other plants and shrubs were thickly hung with blossoms of every richly varied hue and color, charming the eye with their beauty, and loading every passing breeze with balmy and refreshing odors. Every peak and crag along the mountain's side, was clothed with foliage of deep and living green, presenting a striking contrast to the blossoms of the numerous wild plants scattered thickly around, as also to the brown and barren walls of granite which form the summits of the cliffs above. Both Nature and Art had done their perfect work, and each of the numerous ravines which connect the mountain gorges with the fair and fertile plains beneath, and each romantic point projecting out towards the lovely vale below, had its cottage, its mansion house, or its palace, surrounded with a rich variety of flowering plants and shrubs, with bowers and gardens, with fruit and forest trees.
The streams which the numerous mountain springs supply, conveyed in aqueducts, or rushing in their untamed wildness down their rocky beds, discharge themselves in tasteful reservoirs, or flow forth from classic fountains, diffusing abroad their beneficent influence, giving life, richness, and beauty to all surrounding nature. As I turned my eye from the stern and barren grandeur of the topmost cliffs above, to the teeming fertility caused by the waters which they draw from the clouds as diffused abroad in the vales below, my mind was more deeply impressed than ever before with the evidence we have of divine benevolence, in the manner in which those things that at first view appear but as useless blanks in creation, prove on closer inspection to contribute in no slight degree, to the welfare and happiness of man.
Such, as above described, is the scenery which for miles presents itself at the base, and along the numerous ravines of the mountains of Cintra. But there is yet another feature in the landscape. Passing over the range of fertile and beautiful hills in the distance, on one of which the gigantic convent and palace of Mafra are seen ; the wide Atlantic opens to the view, exciting in the mind those vivid emotions which the sea, with its thousand varied forms of beauty, splendor, and more than poetic magnificence and grandeur is so well fitted to inspire. When I thus gazed upon it, a lively breeze had ruffled its surface, and here and there an ambitious wave, among the myriads which chased each other to the shore, would rear its whitened head above its fellows, and sparkling for a moment, as the brilliant sunbeams fell upon it, then, as if exhausted by its efforts, sunk again, and was lost amid the undistinguished mass around. Such, thought I, is the state of man, tossed on the wide-spread and excited sea of human existence. Like the rolling waves of the ocean, each one moves rapidly onwards, at once pursuing and pursued; and if, like the brilliant surf-crowned billow, some favored son of genius rise for a moment above his fellows, in a moment too he sinks again, and is forgotten. Look, too, at these same waves as they end their course along the shore. Here they quietly expend themselves upon the smooth and beaten sand, like the good man yielding up his breath in peace; and there, tossing and foaming among the rocks like the sons of vice on their deathbed, when the mind is thrown back upon itself, and the angry lashing of remorse fills them with fearful anxiety and grief.
Montserrat is the name of the residence of Beckford, the author of Vathek and other works of genius, who, during the last century, connected himself with one of the noble families of Portugal,' and in his mansion at Cintra, surrounded himself with more than oriental magnificence and splendor. Byron says of him –
“There thou too, Vathek ! England's wealthiest son
Once formed thy Paradise ;
But now, as if a thing unblest by man,
This mansion occupies a gentle promontory projecting from the mountain and encircled with trees. It is square with two wings, and surmounted with Gothic turrets. The floors are broken in, and it is wholly in ruins! yet such is the peculiar beauty of its location, as to make it a place of retirement from the cares of the world, worthy of a poet, a prince, or a philosopher.
The Marialva Palace and that of the Queen are objects of interest at Cintra. The latter is an old Moorish structure of singular form and appearance, and its name is connected with the history of Don Sebastian, the Alphonsos, and other noted kings and heroes of Portugal. I was shown a small room where one of these princes was for many years imprisoned, and in walking backwards and forwards in it, he left deep traces of his wonted course in its stony pavements.
From Cintra I rode to Mafra, which, with its palace and convent united, is one of the largest structures in the world. It was erected by King John the Fifth, about the middle of the last century. Eighteen years were employed in building it, and the expense thus incurred impoverished the kingdom. All the peasantry in the vicinity, with their cattle, were forced to labor without pay, in erecting this structure of folly for the king and his monks. In view of such oppression, a French writer, speaking of Mafra, has well remarked as follows : “ What reflections are suggested by the monstrous expenditures which the erection and endowment of these useless monasteries has caused. Each stone is wet with the tears of the poor, and the blood of the people. Seventy or eighty individuals absorb that which would suffice to maintain two thousand families, or to relieve twenty thousand sufferers.”,
Byron, speaking of the superb church in the palace at Mafra, says: “The six organs are the most beautiful I ever beheld in point of decoration. We did not hear them, but were told that their tones were correspondent to their splendor.” The most singular musical instrument, however, that I have ever seen or heard, is in the towers of the palace. It consists of 114 bells, the largest of which are of immense size. They have sounds corresponding with the different musical notes, and tunes are played upon them by means of ma
chinery, set in motion by immense weights. The tongues of the bells are made to strike by a succession of bars, with long wires reaching from them to the bells, which are moved by spikes projecting from immense iron cylinders, which revolve and act in the same manner as is seen in the small instrument called the musical box.
The English Protestant chapel, in the outskirts of Lisbon, is a neat, pleasant building, large enough to seat two or three hundred hearers. The English, by the influence of their wealth and their diplomacy, have secured the privilege of erecting chapels in most of the Catholic cities of Southern Europe, where they reside in numbers sufficient to sustain public worship. Spain, however, has never granted them this privilege. The Queen of Portugal and the Empress of Brazil had attended divine service on the Sabbath, in the English chapel, at Lisbon, a short time before we were there, and treated the chaplain with marked kindness and attention wherever they met him. There is reason to hope that the influence which England and English principles now have in Portugal, and are rapidly acquiring in Spain, may tend to advance the cause of religious toleration in these ill-fated lands. In order to effect, by this means, the greatest amount of good, the blessings of civil and religious freedom should be extended to the Catholics and Dissenters in Great Britain, that thus the dark stain of intolerance inay no longer rest on the fair escutcheon of her fame, and the full influence of her example and her efforts be felt in diffusing throughout Southern Europe, the light of pure and perfect religious liberty and toleration.
The plan of travel I had formed led me from Lisbon to Madrid, the capital of Spain, and from thence to Cadiz, with the intention of visiting by the way most of the important cities in the latter kingdom, which had as yet been beyond my reach. On inquiring for the best means of conveyance, and protection from robbers, in crossing Portugal, I was directed to the smugglers, who are constantly engaged in carrying British and other goods from Lisbon into Spain. I had at first some misgivings as to travelling with such hopeful comrades, but as they went well armed, and in considerable numbers, thus furnishing the only safe defence against robbers, I made a virtue of necessity, and duly prepared myself for the campaign. There was in this movement the prospect of romantic adventure, at least, as also of an opportunity of