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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 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 seature 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 feli 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
But now, as if a thing unblest by man,
To halls deserted, portals gaping wide." 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 may 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
closely studying the character and habits of a strange and peculiar class of men, who lead wild and daring course of life, engaged alternately as robbers and smugglers, just as either business might chance for the time to be most profitable. I was assured, however, that one might safely confide in them where a fair contract was made, and they were well rewarded for their services.
From the days of ancient chivalry down to the present time, the traveller in Spain and Portugal, like Don Quixote and Gil Blas, almost of necessity becomes an adventurer. This is owing to the fact that, from frequent and long-continued civil wars, as well as from other causes, the inhabitants have been driven together into the large towns; their morals have thus been injured, and many of them have not only been fitted to become robbers, but the open and defenceless country, destitute as it is of villages, has furnished a wide and safe field for their lawless depredations. False and romantic ideas of chivalry, too, and a thirst for military glory, have created a distaste for labor, while the wealth of the New World, which enabled so many to live in luxurious indolence, and was, at the same time, the efficient means of spreading bribery and corruption through every department of public business, and of private intercourse and trade, when it ceased to flow into Spain, led many who had before depended on it for support, to resort to dishonest means for obtaining a living, or for acquiring wealth. The unwise restrictions on commerce, also, furnish a strong inducement for smuggling; and these, together with the efforts of the priests, aided by the Inquisition, in keeping up the bigoted prejudices of the populace against all Protestant nations, for fear that heresy might creep in, have caused foreigners to be thoroughly hated, and to be regarded by the lower classes, as a lawful prey for robbers and other kinds of knaves, both in civil and political life. An aged Catholic priest, who has spent forty years of his life in Spain, and has been a minute and intelligent observer of mankind, remarked to me, that extrangero (stranger or foreigner) in the mouth of a Spaniard, meant the same as Judio (Jew), which was a word they used to express every thing that is abominable. “I never hope any thing good of them,” he added, “every man is afraid to trust his own brother. There is no such thing as free, social intercourse among them; and though I have been so long in the country, I am still forced to go to the shop of a tradesman for such society as I have."
While the priesthood had the ascendency, there was also a body of vagabonds, called the Royalist Volunteers, under their influence, 300,000 in number, and costing the governrnent $ 12,000,000 annually. When the absolute party was suppressed, there was much trouble in disarming and disbanding these men, and force was sometimes necessary in order to effect it. They were thus turned loose upon society, and have doubtless furnished many recruits for the various bands of robbers which infest the country. Still, it may be fairly questioned whether the ruling party in Spain is not disposed to charge too many of the acts of lawless violence committed upon the public road, to the “ factiosos," or Carlists, though they were doubtless guilty of those atrocious robberies which have more than once occurred in Catalonia during the last summer, and have been repeated within a few weeks past, near Corunna. In these cases the passengers of the Diligence were stripped of their money and clothing, the conductor and the mules killed, and the carriage burned. The object of this was to embarrass the Queen's government by creating a want of confidence in the means of public conveyance, and, of course, in the efficiency and influence of those authorities which should protect them. The distracted state of Spain, also, owing to the civil war, and to the opposing factions into which the party of the Queen is divided, by lessening the influence of government, and making it necessary to withdraw to the northern provinces the troops who should protect the roads, gives to the robbers a greater degree of security and boldness than ever before.
The state of things described above, prevents most travellers from venturing far into Spain; and this fact, while it gives it more interest as a kind of magic and enchanted land, combines with the original and strongly marked character of the people, and the highly romantic history of her earlier and better days, in exciting an ardent desire to behold for one's self, a country which has been the theatre of so many deeds of heroic daring and martial renown.
When one is about to engage in an enterprise of some peril, there is always a class of well-meaning persons, who, by way of friendly caution, try bis nerves by repeating to him all the sad mishaps that have ever occurred to those who have been exposed in a way similar to himself. Thus, on the morning of the day on which I was to leave Lisbon, a gentleman told me that some Portuguese officers, friends of