图书图片
PDF
ePub

scarcely of this world. The moon on its first appearance, before the western lustre had entirely faded away, cast no reflection, however pale, on the waves; but seemed like some princely maiden exposed for the first time to vulgar gaze, gently to shrink back as though she feared some contamination to her pure and celestial beauty from shining forth on so busy and turbulent a sphere. As night advanced, it was a solemn pleasure to stand on the deck of the vessel, borne swiftly along the noiseless sea, and gaze on the far-retiring stars in the azure distance. The mind seems, in such a scene, almost to “o'er-inform its tenement of clay,” and to leap beyond it. It dwells not on the changes of the world; for in its high abstraction, all material things seem but passing shadows. Life, with its realities, appears like a vanishing dream, and the past a tale scarcely credited. The pulses of mortal existence are almost suspended—“thought is not—in enjoyment it expires.” Nothing seems to be in the universe but one's self and God. No feeling of loneliness has entrance, for the great spirit of Eternal Good seems shedding mildest and selectest influences on all things. On the eighth morning after our departure from Falmouth, on coming as usual on the deck, I found that we were sailing almost close under “the Rock of Lisbon,” which breasts the vale of Cintra. It is a stupendous mountain of rock, extending very far into the sea, and rising to a dizzy height above it. The sides are broken into huge precipices and caverns of various and grotesque forms, are covered with dark moss, or exhibit naked stones blackened with a thousand storms. The top consists of an unequal ridge of apparently shivered rock, sometimes descending in jagged lines, and at others rising into sharp, angular and pointed pyramids, which seem to strike into the clouds. What a feeling does such a monument excite, shapeless, rugged, and setting all form at defiance—when the heart feels that it has outlived a thousand generations of perishable man, and belongs to an antiquity compared with which the wonders of Egypt are modern It seems like the unhewn citadel of a giant race; the mighty wreck of an older and more substantial world. Leaving the steeps and everlasting recesses of this huge mass, we passed the coasts of Portugal. The fields lying near the shore appeared for the most part barren, though broken into gentle undulations, and adorned with large spreading mansions and neat villages. A pleasant breeze brought us soon to the mouth of the Tagus, where a scene of enchantment, “too bright and fair almost for remembrance,” burst upon my view. We sailed between the two fortresses which guard the entrance of the river, here several miles in width, close to the walls of that on the left, denominated “Fort St. Julian.” The river, seen up to the beautiful castle of Belem, lay before us, not serpentine nor perceptibly contracting, but between almost parallel shores, like a noble avenue of crystal. It was studded with vessels of every region, as the sky is sprinkled with stars, which rested on a bosom of waters so calm as scarcely to be curled by the air which wafted

us softly onwards. On both sides, the shore rose into a series of hills on the right side, wild, abrupt, mazy, and tangled, and on the left, covered with the freshest verdure and interspersed with luxuriant trees. Noble seats appeared crowning the hills and sloping on their sides; and in the spaces between the elevated spots, glimpses were caught of sweet valleys winding among scattered woods, or of princely domes and spires in the richness of the distance. All wore, not the pale livery of an opening spring, but the full bloom of maturest summer. The transition to such a scene, sparkling in the richest tints of sunshine and overhung by a cloudless sky of the deepest blue, from the scanty and just-budding foliage of Cornwall, as I left it, was like the change of a Midsummer Night's Dream; a sudden admission into fairy worlds. As we glided up the enchanted channel, the elevations on the left became overspread with magnificent buildings, like mingled temples and palaces, rising one above another into segments of vast amphitheatres, and interspersed with groves of the fullest yet most delicate green. Close to the water lay a barbaric edifice, of rich though fantastic architecture, a relic of Moorish grandeur, now converted into the last earthly abode of the monarchs of Portugal. Hence the buildings continued to thicken over the hills and to assume a more confused, though scarcely less romantic aspect, till we anchored in front of the most populous part of Lisbon. The city was stretched beyond the reach of the eye, on every side, upon the ascents and summits of very lofty and steep elevations. The white houses, thickly intersected with windows, mostly framed with green and white lattice-work, seemed to have their foundations on the tops of others: terraces appeared lified far above the lofty buildings, and other edifices rose above them; gardens looked as suspended by magic in the clouds, and the whole scene wore an aspect of the most gorgeous confusion —“all bright and glittering in the smokeless air.” We landed, and the enchantment vanished, at least for a season. Very narrow streets, winding in ceaseless turnings over steep ascents and declivities, paved only with sharp flints, and filthy beyond compare, now seemed to form the interior of the promised elysium. Nature and the founders of the city appeared to have done their best to render the spot a paradise, and modern generations their worst to reduce it to a sink of misery. Lisbon, like ancient Rome, is built on at least seven hills. It is fitted by situation to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Seated, or rather enthroned on such a spot, commanding a magnificent harbour, and overlooking one of the noblest rivers of Europe, it might be more distinguished for external beauty than Athens in the days of her freedom. Now it seems rather to be the theatre in which the two great powers of deformity and loveliness are perpetually struggling for the mastery. The highest admiration and the most sickening disgust alternately prevail in the mind of the beholder. Never was there so strange an intermixture of the mighty and the mean—of the pride of wealth and the abjectness of poverty—of the memorials of greatness and the symbols of low misery—of the filthy and the romantic. I will dwell, however, on the fair side of the picture; as I envy not those who delight in exhibiting the frightful or the gloomy, in the moral or the natural world. Often after traversing dark and wretched streets, at a sudden turn, a prospect of inimitable beauty bursts on the eye of the spectator. He finds himself, perhaps, on the brink of a mighty hollow scooped out by nature amidst hifls, all covered to the tops with edifices, save where groves of the freshest verdure are interspersed; or on one side, a mountain rises into a cone far above the city, tufted with woods and crowned with some castellated pile, the work of other days. The views fronting the Tagus are still more extensive and grand. On one of these I stumbled a few evenings after my arrival, which almost suspended the breath with wonder. I had laboured through a steep and narrow street almost choked with dirt, when a small avenue on one side, apparently more open, tempted me to step aside to breathe the fresher air. I found myself on a little plot of ground, hanging apparently in the air, in the front of one of the churches. I stood against the column of the portico absorbed in delight and wonder. Before me lay a large portion of the city—houses descended beneath houses, sinking almost precipitously to a fearful depth beneath me, whose frameworks, covered over with vines of delicate green, broke the ascent like prodigious steps, by which a giant might scale the eminence— the same “wilderness of building” filled up the vast hollow, and rose by a more easy slope to the top of the opposite hills, which were crowned with turrets, domes, mansions, and regal pavilions of a dazzling whiteness—beyond the Tagus, on the southern shore, the coast rose into wild and barren hills, wearing an aspect of the roughest sublimity and grandeur—and, in the midst, occupying the bosom of the great vale, close between the glorious city and the unknown wilds, lay the calm and majestic river, from two to three miles in width, seen with the utmost distinctness to its mouth, on each side of which the two castles which guard it were visible, and spread over with a thousand ships—onward yet farther, far as the eye could reach, the living ocean was glistening, and ships, like specks of the purest white, were seen crossing it to and fro, giving to the scene an imaginary extension, by carrying the mind with them to far-distant shores. It was the time of sunset, and clouds of the richest saffron rested on the bosom of the air, and were reflected in softer tints in the waters. Not a whisper reached the ear. “The holy time was quiet as a nun breathless with adoration.” The scene looked like some vision of blissful enchantment, and I scarcely dared to stir or breathe lest it should vanish away. The eastern quarter of Lisbon, which is chiefly built since the great earthquake, stands almost on level ground; and, though surrounded by steep hills, with trees among their precipices, and aerial terraces on their summits, is not in itself very singular or romantic. A square of noble extent, open on the south

to the Tagus, which here spreads out into a breadth of many miles, so as to wear almost the appearance of an inland lake, forms the southern part of this modern city. At the south-eastern angle, close to the river, stands the Exchange, which is a square white building, of no particular beauty or size. The sides of the square are occupied with dull-looking white buildings, which are chiefly offices of state, excepting, indeed, that the plan is incompletely executed, as the unfinished state of the western range of edifices sadly evinces. In the centre is an equestrian statue of King Joseph, on a scale so colossal that the image of Charles on horseback at Charing Cross would appear a miniature by its side. From

the northern side of this quadrangle run three

streets, narrow but built in perfect uniformity, and of more than a quarter of a mile in length, which connect it with another square called the Rocio, of nearly similar magnitude and proportions. The houses in these streets are white, of five stories in height, with shops, more resembling cells than the brilliant repositories of Cheapside, in the lower departments, and latticed windows in the upper stories.—They have on both sides elevated pathways for foot passengers, neatly paved with blocks of stone, and leaving space for two carriages to pass in the centre. The Rocio is surrounded on three sides with houses resembling those in the streets, and on the north by a range of building belonging to the Inquisition, the subterranean prisons of which extend far beneath the square. A little onward to the north of this area, amidst filthy suburbs, stands the public garden of the city. It is an oblong piece of ground, of considerable extent, surrounded by high walls, but always open at proper hours to the public. It is planted with high trees of the most delicate green, which, however, do not form a mass of impervious shade, but afford many spots of the thickest shelter, and give room for the play of the warm sunbeams, and for the contemplation of the stainless sky. The garden is laid out with more regularity than taste: one broad walk runs completely through it from north to south, on each side of which, beneath the loftier shade, are tall hedge-rows, solid masses of green, cut into the exactest parallelograms. The equal spaces on each side of the middle walk are intersected by similar hedgerows—sometimes curving into an open circle, surrounded with circular trenches; at others, enclosing an angular space, railed in and cultivated with flowers, and occasionally expanding into shapes yet more fantastic.—There is no intricacy, no beautiful wildness in the scene— “half the platform just reflects the other” in the minutest features—but the green is so fresh and so abundant, and the air so delicately fragrant, that this garden forms a retreat in the warmth of summer which seems almost elysian. There are two small places of public amusement in Lisbon, where dramatic pieces are performed, chiefly taken from the Spanish. The “legitimate drama,” however, is of little attraction, compared with the wonderful contortions and rope-dancings which these houses exhibit, and which are truly surprising. The Opera House, called the Theatre San Carlos, is, except on a few particular occasions, almost deserted. The audiences are usually so thin, that it is not usual to light up the body of the house, except on particular days, when the rare illumination is duly announced in the bills. I visited it fortunately on the birth-day of the king, which is one of the most splendid of its festivals. Its interior is not much smaller than that of Covent Garden Theatre, though it appears at the first glance much less, from the extreme beauty of the proportions. The form is that of an ellipse, exquisitely turned, intersected at the farther extremity by the stage. The sides are occupied by five tiers of boxes, at least in appearance, for the upper circles, which are appropriated to the populace by way of gallery, are externally uniform with the rest of the theatre. The prevailing colour is white; the ornaments between the boxes, consisting of harps and tasteful devices, are of brown and gold, and elegantly divided into compartments by rims of burnished gold. The middle of the house is occupied by the grand entrance into the pit, the royal box, and the gallery above it, which is in continuation of the higher circle. The royal box is from twelve to fifteen feet in length, and occupies in height the space of three rows of the common boxes. Above are the crown and regal arms in burnished gold, and the sides are supported by statues of the same radiant appearance. Curtains of green silk, of a fine texture, usually conceal its internal splendours; but on this occasion they were drawn aside at the same moment that the stage was discovered, and displayed the interior illuminated with great brilliancy. This seat of royalty is divided into two stories—a slight gallery being thrown over the back part of it. Its ground is a deep crimson; the top descends towards the back in a beautiful concave, representing a rich veil of ermine. In the front of the lower compartment, behind the seats, is the crown of Portugal, figured on deep green velvet; and the sides are adorned with elegant mirrors. The centre of the roof of the theatre is an ellipse, painted to represent the sky with the moon and stars visible; the sides sloping to the upper boxes are of white adorned with gold and crimson. The stage is supported on each side by two pillars of the composite order, of white and gold, half in relief, with a brazen statue between each of them. It forms an excellent framework for a dramatic picture. The most singular feature of the house is a clock over the centre of the stage, which regularly strikes the hours, without mercy. What a noble invention this for the use of those who contend for the unity of time ! How nicely would it enable the French critics to estimate the value of a tragedy at a single glance! How accurately might the time be measured out in which eternal attachments should be formed, conspiracies planned, and states overthrown; how might the passions of the soul be r-e ed to a minute, and the rise and swell of the great emotions of the heart determined to a hair; with what accuracy might the moments which the heroes have yet to live

be counted out like those of culprits at the Old Bailey ! What huge criticisms of Corneille and Voltaire would that little instrument supply What volumes, founded on its movements, would it render superfluous ! Even Grecian regularity must yield before it, and criticism triumph, by this invariable standard, at once over Sophocles and Shakspeare. The scenery was wretched—the singers tolerable—and the band excellent. The ballet took place between the acts of the opera, and was spun out to great length. The dancing consisted partly of wonderful twirlings of the French school, and partly of the more wonderful contortions of the Portuguese; both kinds exceedingly clever, but exhibiting very little of true beauty, grace, or elegance. At the close of the first act, a perfect shower of roses, pinks, and carnations, together with printed sonnets, was poured down from the top of the theatre in honour of his majesty, whose absence, however, even Portuguese loyalty cannot pardon. The churches are the most remarkable of the public buildings of Lisbon; though plain on the outside, they are exceedingly splendid in the interior. The tutelary saints are richer than many Continental princes, though their treasures are only displayed to excite the reverence or the cupidity of the people on high and festal occasions. The most beautiful, though not the largest of the churches which I have examined, is that of the Estrella, which is lined with finely-varied and highly-polished marble, vaulted over with a splendid and sculptured roof, and adorned, in its gilded recesses, with beautiful pictures. Were it not, indeed, for the impression made on me by one of the latter, I should scarcely have mentioned this edifice, unable as I am technically to describe it. The piece to which I allude is not, that I can discover, held in particular estimation, or the production of any celebrated artist; but it excited in me feelings of admiration and delight, which can never die away. It represents Saint John in the Isle of Patmos, gazing on the vision in which the angels are pouring forth the vials, and with the pen in his hand, ready to commit to sacred and imperishable record the awful and mysterious scenes opened before him. Never did I behold or imagine such a figure. He is sitting, half entranced with wonder at the revelation disclosed to him, half mournfully conscious of the evils which he is darkly to predict to a fated and unheeding world. The face, in its mere form and colouring, is most beautiful: its features are perfectly lovely, though inclining rather to cherubic roundness than Grecian austerity, and its roseate bloom of youth is gently touched and softened by the feelings attendant on the sad and holy vocation of the beloved disciple. The head is bent forward, in eagerness, anxiety, and reverence; the eyebrows arched in wonder, yet bearing in every line some undefinable expression of pity; the eyes are uplifted, and beaming with holy inspiration, yet mild, soft, angelical; around the exquisitely-formed mouth, sweet tenderness for the inevitable sorrows of mankind are playing; and the bright chestnut hair, falling in masses over the shoulders, gives to all this expression of high yet soft emotion, a finishing grace and completeness. This figure displays such unspeakable sweetness tempering such prophetic fire; such religious and saintly purity, mingled with so genial a compassion; it is at once so individual and so ideal; so bordering on the celestial, and yet so perfectly within the range of human sympathies; that it is difficult to say, whether the delicious emotions which it inspires partake most of wonder or of love. The image seemed, like sweet music, to sink into the soul, there to remain for ever. To see such a piece is really to be made better and happier. The recollection is a precious treasure for the feelings and the imagination, of which nothing, while they endure, can deprive them. The church at Belem, a fortified place on the Tagus, three or four miles from Lisbon, where the kings and royal family of Portugal have, for many generations, been interred, must not be forgotten. It is one of the most ancient buildings in the kingdom, having originally been erected by the Romans, and splendidly adorned by the Moorish sovereigns. Formed of white stone, it is now stained to a reddish brown by the mere influence of years, and frowns over the water “cased in the unfeeling armour of old time.” Its shape is oblong, its sides of gigantic proportions, and its massive appearance most grand and aweinspiring. The principal entrance is by a deep archway, reaching to a great height, and circular within, ornamented above and around with the most crowded, venerable, and yet fantastic devices—martyrs and heroes of chivalry—swords and crosiers—monarchs and saints—crosses and sceptres—“the roses and flowers of kings” and the sad emblems of mortality—all wearing the stamp of deep antiquity, all appearing carved out of one eternal rock, and promising by their air of solid grandeur to survive as many stupendous changes as those which have already left them unshaken. The interior of this venerable edifice is not less awe-breathing or substantial. Eight huge pillars of barbaric architecture, and covered all over with strange figures and grotesque ornaments in relievo, support the roof, which is white, ponderous, and of a noble simplicity, being only divided into vast square compartments by the beams which cross it. Such a pile, devoted to form the last restingplace of a line of kings who have, each in his brief span of time, held the fate of millions at his pleasure, cannot fail to excite solemn and pensive thought. And yet what are the feelings thus excited, to those meditations to which the great repository of the illustrious deceased in England invites us! Here we think of nothing but the perishableness of man in his best estate—the emptiness of human honours—the low and frail nature of all the distinctions of earth. A race of monarchs occupy but a narrow vault: they were kings, and now are dust; and this idea forced home upon us, makes us feel that the most potent and enduring of worldly things—thrones, dynasties, and the peaceable succession of high families—are but as feeble-shadows. We

learn only to feel our weakness. But in the sacred place where all that could perish of our orators, philosophers, and poets, is reposing, we feel our mortality only to lend us a stronger and more ethereal sense of our eternal being. Life and death seem met together, as in a holy fane, in peaceful concord. While we feel that the mightiest must yield to the stern law of necessity, we know that the very monuments which record the decay of their outward frame, are so many proofs and symbols that they shall never really expire. We feel that those whose remembrance is thus extended beyond the desolating power of the grave, over whose fame death and mortal accidents have no power, are not themselves destroyed. And when we recollect the more indestructible monuments of their genius, those works, which live not only in the libraries of the studious, but in the hearts and imaginations of men; we are conscious at once, that the spirit which conceived, and the souls which appreciate and love them, are not of the earth, earthy. Our thoughts are not wholly of humiliation and sorrow ! but stretch forward, with a pensive majesty, into the permanent and the immortal. Having inspected the city, I was naturally anxious to visit the celebrated .4%ueduct, which is carried across a deep valley two or three miles from Lisbon. Having passed the suburbs, and reached the open country, I saw, at a sudden turn in the pathway, the mighty object of my wanderings. I found myself on the summit of a gently sloping declivity, at a little distance from the foot of which a hill rose to an equal height, with a bold and luxuriant sweep. It is across the expanse thus formed, that the stupendous bridge runs, in two straight lines from each eminence, which form an obtuse angle in the centre. The whole is supported by thirty-six arches, which, as the ground from each extremity sinks, increase in height, or

rather depth, till in the middle of the pile, the

distance to which they ascend from the vale is fearful. This huge structure is composed of dark gray stone, the deep colour of which gives to its massiveness an air of the sternest grandeur. The water is conveyed across the level thus formed, through a chain of building which occupies its centre, and appears almost like a line of solid and unbroken rock. Above this erection, turrets of still greater height, and of the same materials, are reared at regular intervals, and crown the whole. The road is thus divided into two passes, which are secured by high ridges of stone, in the long, uninterrupted straight lines, which have an air of so awful a grandeur in the noblest remains of Roman art. The view from the southern road, though romantic, is, for the most part, confined within narrow boundaries, as rugged hills arise on this side almost from the foot of the Aqueduct, to a height far above its towers, cultivated only towards the lower parts, and covered on the loftier spots with a thin grass and shapeless blocks or masses of granite. This mountainous ridge breaks, however, in the centre, and abruptly displays a piece of the Tagus, like an inland lake, with its tenderly rimpled blue, and the wild and losty banks which rise precipitously beyond it. As the sun was declining when I traversed this path, the portion of craggy shore thus disclosed, and the shrubs which flourish among its steeps, were overcast with the richest tints from the west, and the vessels gently gliding through the opening made by the shaggy declivities of the nearer hills, completed the feeling of genial composure diffused over the scene. From the northern side, the prospect appears arrayed in far gayer charms. The valley here, from the narrow point at which it is seen, spreads out into a fanlike form, till the eminences on each side seem gradually to melt away, and the open country lies in full expanse to the view. It is a scene of fresh, reposing, and perfect beauty. Not an angular intersection breaks the roundness, or interrupts the grace, which characterize the whole. The hills in the foreground sink from each side of the Aqueduct, gradually to the depth of the vale, covered with the freshest verdure, fluctuating in a wave-like motion; and the more distant landscape appears composed of a thousand gentle undulations, thrown up by Nature in her sweetest mood, as though the earth were swelling with an exuberant bounty, even to the rim of the circling sky, with the form of which all is harmonious. The green in which the prospect is clothed, is of a softer and more vivid hue than in England; the pastures seem absolutely to sparkle on the eye; and, amidst this “splendour in the grass, this glory in the flower,” the lively groves of orange and the villas of purest white scattered thickly around, give to the picture a fairy brightness. And yet, setting individual associations aside, I prefer the scenery of my own country to this enchanted vale. This is a landscape to visit as a spectacle, not to live in. There is no solemnity about it, no austere beauty, no retiring loveliness; there are no grand masses of shade,-no venerable oaks, which seem coeval with the hills over which they cast their shadows, no vast colonnades, in which the fine spirit of the elder time seems yet to keep its state. Nature wears not the pale livery which inspires meditation or solemn joy; her face seems wreathed in a perpetual smile. The landscape breathes, indeed, of intoxicating delight; it invites to present joy; but it leads to no tender reminiscences of the past, nor gives solemn indications of the future. It is otherwise in the very deficiencies, as they are usually regarded, of our happier land. There “the pale primrose that dies unmarried” among the scanty hedge-rows, as an emblem of innocence peeping forth amidst a cheerless world, suggests more pensive yet delicious musing, than the gaudiest productions of this brighter clime. The wild roses, thinly interspersed among our thickets, with their delicate colouring and faint perfume, afford images of rustic modesty, far sweeter and more genial than the rich garlands which cluster here. Those “echoes from beyond the grave,” which come to us amid the stillness of forests which have outlived generations of men, are here unheard. In these valleys we are dazzled. surprised, enchanted 5–in ours we are moved

with solemn yet pleasing thoughts, which “do often lie too deep for tears.” Having traversed both sides of the aqueduct, I resolved to ascend one of the hills beyond it, for the purpose of obtaining a still more extensive view. After a most weary ascent, of which my eye had taken a very inadequate estimate, I reached the summit and was amply rewarded for my toils. To the north lay the prospect which I have endeavoured to describe, softened in the distance; beneath was the huge pile, with its massive arches and lone turrets bridging the vale. To the south was the Tagus, and, a little onward, its entrance, where it gently blended with the sea. Completely round the north-eastern side of the horizon, the same mighty and beautiful river appeared flowing on far beyond Lisbon in a noble curve, which seemed to dissolve in the lighter blue of the heavens. And full to the west beyond the coast of Portugal, now irradiated with the most brilliant colouring, was the free and circling ocean, on which amidst visionary shapes of orange and saffron glory, the sun was, for his last moment, resting. Soon the sky became literally “fretted with golden fire,” and the hills seemed covered with a tender haze of light, which rendered them yet lovelier. The moon began to blend her mild radiance with the sweet twilight, as I took the last glance at the vale, and hastened to Lisbon. On Thursday, the 21st of May, a grand festival was holden in honour of Saint George, who is held in peculiar reverence in Lisbon. On this most sacred occasion, all the buildings around the vast area of the Rocio were hung with crimson tapestry; a road was formed of fine gravel, guarded by lines of soldiers; and the troops, to a great number, in splendid uniforms, occupied the most conspicuous passages. When all was prepared, the train issued from a church in one of the angles of the square, and slowly paraded round the path prepared for it. It consisted of all the eccle. siastical orders, attired in their richest vestments, and bearing, alternately, crosses of gold and silver; canopies of white, purple, orange, and crimson silk, bordered with deep fringes; and gorgeous banners, decorated with curious devices. The canopy which floated over the consecrated wafer, formerly borne by the king and the princes, was, on this occasion, carried by the chief persons of the regency. But the most remarkable object was the Saint himself, who, “not to speak it profanely,” is no other than a wooden figure, and, I am afraid, must yield in proportion and in grace to that unconsecrated work, the Apollo Ielvidere. He was seated on a noble horse, and arrayed in a profusion of gems, which, according to the accounts of the Portuguese, human power could hardly calculate. His boots were of solid silver; his whole person begirt with jewels, and his hat glittered in the sun like one prodigious diamond. He descended in state from the castle to the church, whence the procession issued, and remained there during the solemnities. He was saluted on leaving his mansion, with a discharge of artillery, and re

« 上一页继续 »