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The Bible in Spain
by George Borrow
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I asked my friends the contrabandistas why he wore the rosemary in his hat; whereupon they told me that it was good against witches and the mischances on the road. I had no time to argue against this superstition, for, as the chaise was to be ready at five the next morning, I wished to make the most of the short time which I could devote to sleep.



CHAPTER IV



Vexatious Delays—Drunken Driver—The Murdered Mule—The Lamentation—Adventure on the Heath—Fear of Darkness—Portuguese Fidalgo—The Escort—Return to Lisbon.

I rose at four, and after having taken some refreshment, I descended and found the strange man and his wife sleeping in the chimney corner by the fire, which was still burning; they soon awoke and began preparing their breakfast, which consisted of salt sardinhas, broiled upon the embers. In the meantime the woman sang snatches of the beautiful hymn, very common in Spain, which commences thus:-

"Once of old upon a mountain, shepherds overcome with sleep, Near to Bethlem's holy tower, kept at dead of night their sheep; Round about the trunk they nodded of a huge ignited oak, Whence the crackling flame ascending bright and clear the darkness broke."

On hearing that I was about to depart, she said, "You shall have some of my husband's rosemary, which will keep you from danger, and prevent any misfortune occurring." I was foolish enough to permit her to put some of it in my hat; and the man having by this time arrived with his mules, I bade farewell to my friendly hostesses, and entered the chaise with my servant.

I remarked at the time, that the mules which drew us were the finest I had ever seen; the largest could be little short of sixteen hands high; and the fellow told me in his bad French that he loved them better than his wife and children. We turned round the corner of the convent and proceeded down the street which leads to the south-western gate. The driver now stopped before the door of a large house, and having alighted, said that it was yet very early, and that he was afraid to venture forth, as it was very probable we should be robbed, and himself murdered, as the robbers who resided in the town would be apprehensive of his discovering them, but that the family who lived in this house were going to Lisbon, and would depart in about a quarter of an hour, when we might avail ourselves of an escort of soldiers which they would take with them, and in their company we should run no danger. I told him I had no fear, and commanded him to drive on; but he said he would not, and left us in the street. We waited an hour, when two carriages came to the door of the house, but it seems the family were not yet ready, whereupon the coachman likewise got down and went away. At the expiration of about half an hour the family came out, and when their luggage had been arranged they called for the coachman, but he was nowhere to be found. Search was made for him, but ineffectually, and an hour more was spent before another driver could be procured; but the escort had not yet made its appearance, and it was not before a servant had been twice despatched to the barracks that it arrived. At last everything was ready, and they drove off.

All this time I had seen nothing of our own coachman, and I fully expected that he had abandoned us altogether. In a few minutes I saw him staggering up the street in a state of intoxication, attempting to sing the Marseillois hymn. I said nothing to him, but sat observing him. He stood for some time staring at the mules and talking incoherent nonsense in French. At last he said, "I am not so drunk but I can ride," and proceeded to lead his mules towards the gate. When out of the town he made several ineffectual attempts to mount the smallest mule which bore the saddle; he at length succeeded, and instantly commenced spurring at a furious rate down the road. We arrived at a place where a narrow rocky path branched off, by taking which we should avoid a considerable circuit round the city wall, which otherwise it would be necessary to make before we could reach the road to Lisbon, which lay at the north-east; he now said, "I shall take this path, for by so doing we shall overtake the family in a minute"; so into the path we went; it was scarcely wide enough to admit the carriage, and exceedingly steep and broken; we proceeded; ascending and descending, the wheels cracked, and the motion was so violent that we were in danger of being cast out as from a sling. I saw that if we remained in the carriage it must be broken in pieces, as our weight must insure its destruction. I called to him in Portuguese to stop, but he flogged and spurred the beasts the more. My man now entreated me for God's sake to speak to him in French, for, if anything would pacify him, that would. I did so, and entreated him to let us dismount and walk, till we had cleared this dangerous way. The result justified Antonio's anticipation. He instantly stopped and said, "Sir, you are master, you have only to command and I shall obey." We dismounted and walked on till we reached the great road, when we once more seated ourselves.

The family were about a quarter of a mile in advance, and we were no sooner reseated, than he lashed the mules into full gallop for the purpose of overtaking it; his cloak had fallen from his shoulder, and, in endeavouring to readjust it, he dropped the string from his hand by which he guided the large mule, it became entangled in the legs of the poor animal, which fell heavily on its neck, it struggled for a moment, and then lay stretched across the way, the shafts over its body. I was pitched forward into the dirt, and the drunken driver fell upon the murdered mule.

I was in a great rage, and cried, "You drunken renegade, who are ashamed to speak the language of your own country, you have broken the staff of your existence, and may now starve." "Paciencia," said he, and began kicking the head of the mule, in order to make it rise; but I pushed him down, and taking his knife, which had fallen from his pocket, cut the bands by which it was attached to the carriage, but life had fled, and the film of death had begun to cover its eyes.

The fellow, in the recklessness of intoxication, seemed at first disposed to make light of his loss, saying, "The mule is dead, it was God's will that she should die, what more can be said? Paciencia." Meanwhile, I despatched Antonio to the town for the purpose of hiring mules, and, having taken my baggage from the chaise, waited on the roadside until he should arrive.

The fumes of the liquor began now to depart from the fellow's brain; he clasped his hands and exclaimed, "Blessed Virgin, what is to become of me? How am I to support myself? Where am I to get another mule! For my mule, my best mule is dead, she fell upon the road, and died of a sudden! I have been in France, and in other countries, and have seen beasts of all kinds, but such a mule as that I have never seen; but she is dead—my mule is dead—she fell upon the road and died of a sudden!" He continued in this strain for a considerable time, and the burden of his lamentation was always, "My mule is dead, she fell upon the road, and died of a sudden." At length he took the collar from the creature's neck, and put it upon the other, which with some difficulty he placed in the shafts.

A beautiful boy of about thirteen now came from the direction of the town, running along the road with the velocity of a hare: he stopped before the dead mule and burst into tears: it was the man's son, who had heard of the accident from Antonio. This was too much for the poor fellow: he ran up to the boy, and said, "Don't cry, our bread is gone, but it is God's will; the mule is dead!" He then flung himself on the ground, uttering fearful cries. "I could have borne my loss," said he, "but when I saw my child cry, I became a fool." I gave him two or three crowns, and added some words of comfort; assuring him I had no doubt that, if he abandoned drink, the Almighty God would take compassion on him and repair his loss. At length he became more composed, and placing my baggage in the chaise, we returned to the town, where I found two excellent riding mules awaiting my arrival at the inn. I did not see the Spanish woman, or I should have told her of the little efficacy of rosemary in this instance.

I have known several drunkards amongst the Portuguese, but, without one exception, they have been individuals who, having travelled abroad, like this fellow, have returned with a contempt for their own country, and polluted with the worst vices of the lands which they have visited.

I would strongly advise any of my countrymen who may chance to read these lines, that, if their fate lead them into Spain or Portugal, they avoid hiring as domestics, or being connected with, individuals of the lower classes who speak any other language than their own, as the probability is that they are heartless thieves and drunkards. These gentry are invariably saying all they can in dispraise of their native land; and it is my opinion, grounded upon experience, that an individual who is capable of such baseness would not hesitate at the perpetration of any villainy, for next to the love of God, the love of country is the best preventive of crime. He who is proud of his country, will be particularly cautious not to do anything which is calculated to disgrace it.

We now journeyed towards Lisbon, and reached Monte Moro about two o'clock. After taking such refreshment as the place afforded, we pursued our way till we were within a quarter of a league of the huts which stand on the edge of the savage wilderness we had before crossed. Here we were overtaken by a horseman; he was a powerful, middle-sized man, and was mounted on a noble Spanish horse. He had a broad, slouching sombrero on his head, and wore a jerkin of blue cloth, with large bosses of silver for buttons, and clasps of the same metal; he had breeches of yellow leather, and immense jackboots: at his saddle was slung a formidable gun. He inquired if I intended to pass the night at Vendas Novas, and on my replying in the affirmative, he said that he would avail himself of our company. He now looked towards the sun, whose disk was rapidly sinking beneath the horizon, and entreated us to spur on and make the most of its light, for that the moor was a horrible place in the dusk. He placed himself at our head, and we trotted briskly on, the boy or muleteer who attended us running behind without exhibiting the slightest symptom of fatigue.

We entered upon the moor, and had advanced about a mile when dark night fell around us; we were in a wild path, with high brushwood on either side, when the rider said that he could not confront the darkness, and begged me to ride on before, and he would follow after: I could hear him trembling. I asked the reason of his terror, and he replied that at one time darkness was the same thing to him as day, but that of late years he dreaded it, especially in wild places. I complied with his request, but I was ignorant of the way, and as I could scarcely see my hand, was continually going wrong. This made the man impatient, and he again placed himself at our head. We proceeded so for a considerable way, when he again stopped, and said that the power of the darkness was too much for him. His horse seemed to be infected with the same panic, for it shook in every limb. I now told him to call on the name of the Lord Jesus, who was able to turn the darkness into light, but he gave a terrible shout, and, brandishing his gun aloft, discharged it in the air. His horse sprang forward at full speed, and my mule, which was one of the swiftest of its kind, took fright and followed at the heels of the charger. Antonio and the boy were left behind. On we flew like a whirlwind, the hoofs of the animals illuming the path with the sparks of fire they struck from the stones. I knew not whither we were going, but the dumb creatures were acquainted with the way, and soon brought us to Vendas Novas, where we were rejoined by our companions.

I thought this man was a coward, but I did him injustice, for during the day he was as brave as a lion, and feared no one. About five years since, he had overcome two robbers who had attacked him on the moors, and, after tying their hands behind them, had delivered them up to justice; but at night the rustling of a leaf filled him with terror. I have known similar instances of the kind in persons of otherwise extraordinary resolution. For myself, I confess I am not a person of extraordinary resolution, but the dangers of the night daunt me no more than those of midday. The man in question was a farmer from Evora, and a person of considerable wealth.

I found the inn at Vendas Novas thronged with people, and had some difficulty in obtaining accommodation and refreshment. It was occupied by the family of a certain Fidalgo, from Estremoz; he was on the way to Lisbon, conveying a large sum of money, as was said— probably the rents of his estates. He had with him a body guard of four-and-twenty of his dependants, each armed with a rifle; they consisted of his swineherds, shepherds, cowherds, and hunters, and were commanded by two youths, his son and nephew, the latter of whom was in regimentals; nevertheless, notwithstanding the number of his troop, it appeared that the Fidalgo laboured under considerable apprehension of being despoiled upon the waste which lay between Vendas Novas and Pegoens, as he had just requested a guard of four soldiers from the officer who commanded a detachment stationed here: there were many females in his company, who, I was told, were his illegitimate daughters—for he bore an infamous moral character, and was represented to me as a staunch friend of Don Miguel. It was not long before he came up to me and my new acquaintance, as we sat by the kitchen fire: he was a tall man of about sixty, but stooped much. His countenance was by no means pleasing: he had a long hooked nose, small twinkling cunning eyes, and, what I liked worst of all, a continual sneering smile, which I firmly believe to be the index of a treacherous and malignant heart. He addressed me in Spanish, which, as he resided not far from the frontier, he spoke with fluency, but contrary to my usual practice, I was reserved and silent.

On the following morning I rose at seven, and found that the party from Estremoz had started several hours previously. I breakfasted with my acquaintance of the preceding night, and we set out to accomplish what remained of our journey. The sun had now arisen; and all his fears had left him—he breathed defiance against all the robbers of the Alemtejo. When we had advanced about a league, the boy who attended us said he saw heads of men amongst the brushwood. Our cavalier instantly seized his gun, and causing his horse to make two or three lofty bounds, held it in one hand, the muzzle pointed in the direction indicated, but the heads did not again make their appearance, and it was probably but a false alarm.

We resumed our way, and the conversation turned, as might be expected, upon robbers. My companion, who seemed to be acquainted with every inch of ground over which we passed, had a legend to tell of every dingle and every pine-clump. We reached a slight eminence, on the top of which grew three stately pines: about half a league farther on was another similar one: these two eminences commanded a view of the road from Pegoens and Vendas Novas, so that all people going and coming could be descried, whilst yet at a distance. My friend told me that these heights were favourite stations of robbers. Some two years since, a band of six mounted banditti remained there three days, and plundered whomsoever approached from either quarter: their horses, saddled and bridled, stood picqueted at the foot of the trees, and two scouts, one for each eminence, continually sat in the topmost branches and gave notice of the approach of travellers: when at a proper distance the robbers below sprang upon their horses, and putting them to full gallop, made at their prey, shouting Rendete, Picaro! Rendete, Picaro! (Surrender, scoundrel, surrender!) We, however, passed unmolested, and, about a quarter of a mile before we reached Pegoens, overtook the family of the Fidalgo.

Had they been conveying the wealth of Ind through the deserts of Arabia, they could not have travelled with more precaution. The nephew, with drawn sabre, rode in front; pistols at his holsters, and the usual Spanish gun slung at his saddle. Behind him tramped six men in a rank, with muskets shouldered, and each of them wore at his girdle a hatchet, which was probably intended to cleave the thieves to the brisket should they venture to come to close quarters. There were six vehicles, two of them calashes, in which latter rode the Fidalgo and his daughters; the others were covered carts, and seemed to be filled with household furniture; each of these vehicles had an armed rustic on either side; and the son, a lad about sixteen, brought up the rear with a squad equal to that of his cousin in the van. The soldiers, who by good fortune were light horse, and admirably mounted, were galloping about in all directions, for the purpose of driving the enemy from cover, should they happen to be lurking in the neighbourhood.

I could not help thinking as I passed by, that this martial array was very injudicious, for though it was calculated to awe plunderers, it was likewise calculated to allure them, as it seemed to hint that immense wealth was passing through their territories. I do not know how the soldiers and rustics would have behaved in case of an attack; but am inclined to believe that if three such men as Richard Turpin had suddenly galloped forth from behind one of the bush-covered knolls, neither the numbers nor resistance opposed to them would have prevented them from bearing away the contents of the strong box jingling in their saddlebags.

From this moment nothing worthy of relating occurred till our arrival at Aldea Gallega, where we passed the night, and next morning at three o'clock embarked in the passage-boat for Lisbon, where we arrived at eight—and thus terminates my first wandering in the Alemtejo.



CHAPTER V



The College—The Rector—Shibboleth—National Prejudices—Youthful Sports—Jews of Lisbon—Bad Faith—Crime and Superstition—Strange Proposal.

One afternoon Antonio said to me, "It has struck me, Senhor, that your worship would like to see the college of the English—." "By all means," I replied, "pray conduct me thither." So he led me through various streets until we stopped before the gate of a large building in one of the most elevated situations in Lisbon; upon our ringing, a kind of porter presently made his appearance, and demanded our business. Antonio explained it to him. He hesitated for a moment; but presently, bidding us enter, conducted us to a large gloomy-looking stone hall, where, begging us to be seated, he left us. We were soon joined by a venerable personage, seemingly about seventy, in a kind of flowing robe or surplice, with a collegiate cap upon his head. Notwithstanding his age there was a ruddy tinge upon his features, which were perfectly English. Coming slowly up he addressed me in the English tongue, requesting to know how he could serve me. I informed him that I was an English traveller, and should be happy to be permitted to inspect the college, provided it were customary to show it to strangers. He informed me that there could be no objection to accede to my request, but that I came at rather an unfortunate moment, it being the hour of refection. I apologised, and was preparing to retire, but he begged me to remain, as, in a few minutes, the refection would be over, when the principals of the college would do themselves the pleasure of waiting on me.

We sat down on the stone bench, when he commenced surveying me attentively for some time, and then cast his eyes on Antonio. "Whom have we here?" said he to the latter; "surely your features are not unknown to me." "Probably not, your reverence," replied Antonio, getting up and bowing most profoundly. "I lived in the family of the Countess -, at Cintra, when your venerability was her spiritual guide." "True, true," said the old gentleman, sighing, "I remember you now. Ah, Antonio, things are strangely changed since then. A new government—a new system—a new religion, I may say." Then looking again at me, he demanded whither I was journeying? "I am going to Spain," said I, "and have stopped at Lisbon by the way." "Spain, Spain!" said the old man; "surely you have chosen a strange time to visit Spain; there is much bloodshedding in Spain at present, and violent wars and tumults." "I consider the cause of Don Carlos as already crushed," I replied; "he has lost the only general capable of leading his armies to Madrid. Zumalacarregui, his Cid, has fallen." "Do not flatter yourself; I beg your pardon, but do not think, young man, that the Lord will permit the powers of darkness to triumph so easily; the cause of Don Carlos is not lost; its success did not depend on the life of a frail worm like him whom you have mentioned." We continued in discourse some little time, when he arose, saying that by this time he believed the refection was concluded.

He had scarcely left me five minutes when three individuals entered the stone hall, and advanced slowly towards me;—the principals of the college, said I to myself! and so indeed they were. The first of these gentlemen, and to whom the other two appeared to pay considerable deference, was a thin spare person, somewhat above the middle height; his complexion was very pale, his features emaciated but fine, his eyes dark and sparkling; he might be about fifty—the other two were men in the prime of life. One was of rather low stature; his features were dark, and wore that pinched and mortified expression so frequently to be observed in the countenance of the English -: the other was a bluff, ruddy, and rather good-looking young man; all three were dressed alike in the usual college cap and silk gown. Coming up, the eldest of the three took me by the hand and thus addressed me in clear silvery tones:-

"Welcome, Sir, to our poor house; we are always happy to see in it a countryman from our beloved native land; it will afford us extreme satisfaction to show you over it; it is true that satisfaction is considerably diminished by the reflection that it possesses nothing worthy of the attention of a traveller; there is nothing curious pertaining to it save perhaps its economy, and that as we walk about we will explain to you. Permit us, first of all, to introduce ourselves to you; I am rector of this poor English house of refuge; this gentleman is our professor of humanity, and this (pointing to the ruddy personage) is our professor of polite learning, Hebrew, and Syriac."

Myself.—I humbly salute you all; excuse me if I inquire who was the venerable gentleman who put himself to the inconvenience of staying with me whilst I was awaiting your leisure.

Rector.—O! a most admirable personage, our almoner, our chaplain; he came into this country before any of us were born, and here he has continued ever since. Now let us ascend that we may show you our poor house: but how is this, my dear Sir, how is it that I see you standing uncovered in our cold damp hall?

Myself.—I can easily explain that to you; it is a custom which has become quite natural to me. I am just arrived from Russia, where I have spent some years. A Russian invariably takes off his hat whenever he enters beneath a roof, whether it pertain to hut, shop, or palace. To omit doing so would be considered as a mark of brutality and barbarism, and for the following reason: in every apartment of a Russian house there is a small picture of the Virgin stuck up in a corner, just below the ceiling—the hat is taken off out of respect to her.

Quick glances of intelligence were exchanged by the three gentlemen. I had stumbled upon their shibboleth, and proclaimed myself an Ephraimite, and not of Gilead. I have no doubt that up to that moment they had considered me as one of themselves—a member, and perhaps a priest, of their own ancient, grand, and imposing religion, for such it is, I must confess—an error into which it was natural that they should fall. What motives could a Protestant have for intruding upon their privacy? What interest could he take in inspecting the economy of their establishment? So far, however, from relaxing in their attention after this discovery, their politeness visibly increased, though, perhaps, a scrutinizing observer might have detected a shade of less cordiality in their manner.

Rector.—Beneath the ceiling in every apartment? I think I understood you so. How delightful—how truly interesting; a picture of the BLESSED Virgin beneath the ceiling in every apartment of a Russian house! Truly, this intelligence is as unexpected as it is delightful. I shall from this moment entertain a much higher opinion of the Russians than hitherto—most truly an example worthy of imitation. I wish sincerely that it was our own practice to place an IMAGE of the BLESSED Virgin beneath the ceiling in every corner of our houses. What say you, our professor of humanity? What say you to the information so obligingly communicated to us by this excellent gentleman?

Humanity Professor.—It is, indeed, most delightful, most cheering, I may say; but I confess that I was not altogether unprepared for it. The adoration of the Blessed Virgin is becoming every day more extended in countries where it has hitherto been unknown or forgotten. Dr. W-, when he passed through Lisbon, gave me some most interesting details with respect to the labours of the propaganda in India. Even England, our own beloved country. . . .

My obliging friends showed me all over their "poor house," it certainly did not appear a very rich one; it was spacious, and rather dilapidated. The library was small, and possessed nothing remarkable; the view, however, from the roof, over the greater part of Lisbon and the Tagus, was very grand and noble; but I did not visit this place in the hope of seeing busts, or books, or fine prospects,—I visited this strange old house to converse with its inmates, for my favourite, I might say, my only study, is man. I found these gentlemen much what I had anticipated, for this was not the first time that I had visited an English—establishment in a foreign land. They were full of amiability and courtesy to their heretic countryman, and though the advancement of their religion was with them an object of paramount importance, I soon found that, with ludicrous inconsistency, they cherished, to a wonderful degree, national prejudices almost extinct in the mother land, even to the disparagement of those of their own darling faith. I spoke of the English -, of their high respectability, and of the loyalty which they had uniformly displayed to their sovereign, though of a different religion, and by whom they had been not unfrequently subjected to much oppression and injustice.

Rector.—My dear Sir, I am rejoiced to hear you; I see that you are well acquainted with the great body of those of our faith in England. They are as you have well described them, a most respectable and loyal body; from loyalty, indeed, they never swerved, and though they have been accused of plots and conspiracies, it is now well known that such had no real existence, but were merely calumnies invented by their religious enemies. During the civil wars the English—cheerfully shed their blood and squandered their fortunes in the cause of the unfortunate martyr, notwithstanding that he never favoured them, and invariably looked upon them with suspicion. At present the English—are the most devoted subjects to our gracious sovereign. I should be happy if I could say as much for our Irish brethren; but their conduct has been—oh! detestable. Yet what can you expect? The true—blush for them. A certain person is a disgrace to the church of which he pretends to be a servant. Where does he find in our canons sanction for his proceedings, his undutiful expressions towards one who is his sovereign by divine right, and who can do no wrong? And above all, where does he find authority for inflaming the passions of a vile mob against a nation intended by nature and by position to command them?

Myself.—I believe there is an Irish college in this city?

Rector.—I believe there is; but it does not flourish, there are few or no pupils. Oh!

I looked through a window, at a great height, and saw about twenty or thirty fine lads sporting in a court below. "This is as it should be," said I; "those boys will not make worse priests from a little early devotion to trap-ball and cudgel playing. I dislike a staid, serious, puritanic education, as I firmly believe that it encourages vice and hypocrisy."

We then went into the Rector's room, where, above a crucifix, was hanging a small portrait.

Myself.—That was a great and portentous man, honest withal. I believe the body of which he was the founder, and which has been so much decried, has effected infinitely more good than it has caused harm.

Rector.—What do I hear? You an Englishman, and a Protestant, and yet an admirer of Ignatius Loyola?

Myself.—I will say nothing with respect to the doctrine of the Jesuits, for, as you have observed, I am a Protestant: but I am ready to assert that there are no people in the world better qualified, upon the whole, to be intrusted with the education of youth. Their moral system and discipline are truly admirable. Their pupils, in after life, are seldom vicious and licentious characters, and are in general men of learning, science, and possessed of every elegant accomplishment. I execrate the conduct of the liberals of Madrid in murdering last year the helpless fathers, by whose care and instruction two of the finest minds of Spain have been evolved—the two ornaments of the liberal cause and modern literature of Spain, for such are Toreno and Martinez de la Rosa. . . .

Gathered in small clusters about the pillars at the lower extremities of the gold and silver streets in Lisbon, may be observed, about noon in every day, certain strange looking men, whose appearance is neither Portuguese nor European. Their dress generally consists of a red cap, with a blue silken tassel at the top of it, a blue tunic girded at the waist with a red sash, and wide linen pantaloons or trousers. He who passes by these groups generally hears them conversing in broken Spanish or Portuguese, and occasionally in a harsh guttural language, which the oriental traveller knows to be the Arabic, or a dialect thereof. These people are the Jews of Lisbon. Into the midst of one of these groups I one day introduced myself, and pronounced a beraka, or blessing. I have lived in different parts of the world, much amongst the Hebrew race, and am well acquainted with their ways and phraseology. I was rather anxious to become acquainted with the state of the Portuguese Jews, and I had now an opportunity. "The man is a powerful rabbi," said a voice in Arabic; "it behoves us to treat him kindly." They welcomed me. I favoured their mistake, and in a few days I knew all that related to them and their traffic in Lisbon.

I found them a vile, infamous rabble, about two hundred in number. With a few exceptions, they consist of escapados from the Barbary shore, from Tetuan, from Tangier, but principally from Mogadore; fellows who have fled to a foreign land from the punishment due to their misdeeds. Their manner of life in Lisbon is worthy of such a goodly assemblage of amis reunis. The generality of them pretend to work in gold and silver, and keep small peddling shops; they, however, principally depend for their livelihood on an extensive traffic in stolen goods which they carry on. It is said that there is honour amongst thieves, but this is certainly not the case with the Jews of Lisbon, for they are so greedy and avaricious, that they are constantly quarrelling about their ill-gotten gain, the result being that they frequently ruin each other. Their mutual jealousy is truly extraordinary. If one, by cheating and roguery, gains a cruzado in the presence of another, the latter instantly says I cry halves, and if the first refuse he is instantly threatened with an information. The manner in which they cheat each other has, with all its infamy, occasionally something extremely droll and ludicrous. I was one day in the shop of a Swiri, or Jew of Mogadore, when a Jew from Gibraltar entered, with a Portuguese female, who held in her hand a mantle, richly embroidered with gold.

Gibraltar Jew (speaking in broken Arabic).—Good-day, O Swiri; God has favoured me this day; here is a bargain by which we shall both gain. I have bought this mantle of the woman almost for nothing, for it is stolen; but I am poor, as you know, I have not a cruzado; pay her therefore the price, that we may then forthwith sell the mantle and divide the gain.

Swiri.—Willingly, brother of Gibraltar; I will pay the woman for the mantle; it does not appear a bad one.

Thereupon he flung two cruzados to the woman, who forthwith left the shop.

Gibraltar Jew.—Thanks, brother Swirl, this is very kind of you; now let us go and sell the mantle, the gold alone is well worth a moidore; but I am poor and have nothing to eat, give me, therefore, the half of that sum and keep the mantle; I shall be content.

Swiri.—May Allah blot out your name, you thief. What mean you by asking me for money? I bought the mantle of the woman and paid for it. I know nothing of you. Go out of my doors, dog of a Nazarene, if not I will pay you with a kick.

The dispute was referred to one of the sabios, or priests; but the sabio, who was also from Mogadore, at once took the part of the Swiri, and decided that the other should have nothing. Whereupon the Gibraltar Jew cursed the sabio, his father, mother, and all his family. The sabio replied, "I put you in ndui," a kind of purgatory or hell. "I put you in seven nduis," retorted the incensed Jew, over whom, however, superstitious fear speedily prevailed; he faltered, became pale, and dropping his voice, retreated, trembling in every limb.

The Jews have two synagogues in Lisbon, both are small; one is, however, tolerably well furnished, it has its reading desk, and in the middle there is a rather handsome chandelier; the other is little better than a sty, filthy to a degree, without ornament of any kind. The congregation of this last are thieves to a man; no Jew of the slightest respectability ever enters it.

How well do superstition and crime go hand in hand. These wretched beings break the eternal commandments of their Maker without scruple; but they will not partake of the beast of the uncloven foot, and the fish which has no scales. They pay no regard to the denunciations of holy prophets against the children of sin, but they quake at the sound of a dark cabalistic word, pronounced by one perhaps their equal, or superior, in villainy, as if God would delegate the exercise of his power to the workers of iniquity.

I was one day sauntering on the Caesodre, when a Jew, with whom I had previously exchanged a word or two, came up and addressed me.

Jew.—The blessing of God upon you, brother; I know you to be a wise and powerful man, and I have conceived much regard for you; it is on that account that I wish to put you in the way of gaining much money. Come with me, and I will conduct you to a place where there are forty chests of tea. It is a sereka (a robbery), and the thieves are willing to dispose of it for a trifle, for there is search being made, and they are in much fear. I can raise one half of what they demand, do you supply the other, we will then divide it, each shall go his own way and dispose of his portion.

Myself.—Wherefore, O son of Arbat, do you propose this to me, who am a stranger? Surely you are mad. Have you not your own people about you whom you know, and in whom you can confide?

Jew.—It is because I know our people here that I do not confide in them; we are in the galoot of sin. Were I to confide in my brethren there would be a dispute, and perhaps they would rob me, and few of them have any money. Were I to apply to the sabio he might consent, but when I ask for my portion he would put me in ndui! You I do not fear; you are good and would do me no harm, unless I attempted to deceive you, and that I dare not do, for I know you are powerful. Come with me, master, for I wish to gain something, that I may return to Arbat, where I have children . . .

Such are Jews in Lisbon.



CHAPTER VI



Cold of Portugal—Extortion prevented—Sensation of Loneliness—The Dog—The Convent—Enchanting Landscape—Moorish Fortresses—Prayer for the Sick.

About a fortnight after my return from Evora, having made the necessary preparations, I set out on my journey for Badajoz, from which town I intended to take the diligence to Madrid. Badajoz lies about a hundred miles distant from Lisbon, and is the principal frontier town of Spain in the direction of the Alemtejo. To reach this place, it was necessary to retravel the road as far as Monte More, which I had already passed in my excursion to Evora; I had therefore very little pleasure to anticipate from novelty of scenery. Moreover, in this journey I should be a solitary traveller, with no other companion than the muleteer, as it was my intention to take my servant no farther than Aldea Gallega, for which place I started at four in the afternoon. Warned by former experience, I did not now embark in a small boat, but in one of the regular passage felouks, in which we reached Aldea Gallega, after a voyage of six hours; for the boat was heavy, there was no wind to propel it, and the crew were obliged to ply their huge oars the whole way. In a word, this passage was the reverse of the first,— safe in every respect,—but so sluggish and tiresome, that I a hundred times wished myself again under the guidance of the wild lad, galloping before the hurricane over the foaming billows. From eight till ten the cold was truly terrible, and though I was closely wrapped in an excellent fur "shoob," with which I had braved the frosts of Russian winters, I shivered in every limb, and was far more rejoiced when I again set my foot on the Alemtejo, than when I landed for the first time, after having escaped the horrors of the tempest.

I took up my quarters for the night at a house to which my friend who feared the darkness had introduced me on my return from Evora, and where, though I paid mercilessly dear for everything, the accommodation was superior to that of the common inn in the square. My first care now was to inquire for mules to convey myself and baggage to Elvas, from whence there are but three short leagues to the Spanish town of Badajoz. The people of the house informed me that they had an excellent pair at my disposal, but when I inquired the price, they were not ashamed to demand four moidores. I offered them three, which was too much, but which, however, they did not accept, for knowing me to be an Englishman, they thought they had an excellent opportunity to practise imposition, not imagining that a person so rich as an Englishman MUST be, would go out in a cold night for the sake of obtaining a reasonable bargain. They were, however, much mistaken, as I told them that rather than encourage them in their knavery, I should be content to return to Lisbon; whereupon they dropped their demand to three and a half, but I made them no answer, and going out with Antonio, proceeded to the house of the old man who had accompanied us to Evora. We knocked a considerable time, for he was in bed; at length he arose and admitted us, but on hearing our object, he said that his mules were again gone to Evora, under the charge of the boy, for the purpose of transporting some articles of merchandise. He, however, recommended us to a person in the neighbourhood who kept mules for hire, and there Antonio engaged two fine beasts for two moidores and a half. I say he engaged them, for I stood aloof and spoke not, and the proprietor, who exhibited them, and who stood half- dressed, with a lamp in his hand and shivering with cold, was not aware that they were intended for a foreigner till the agreement was made, and he had received a part of the sum in earnest. I returned to the inn well pleased, and having taken some refreshment went to rest, paying little attention to the people, who glanced daggers at me from their small Jewish eyes.

At five the next morning the mules were at the door; a lad of some nineteen or twenty years of age attended them; he was short but exceedingly strong built, and possessed the largest head which I ever beheld upon mortal shoulders; neck he had none, at least I could discern nothing which could be entitled to that name. His features were hideously ugly, and upon addressing him I discovered that he was an idiot. Such was my intended companion in a journey of nearly a hundred miles, which would occupy four days, and which lay over the most savage and ill noted track in the whole kingdom. I took leave of my servant almost with tears, for he had always served me with the greatest fidelity, and had exhibited an assiduity and a wish to please which afforded me the utmost satisfaction.

We started, my uncouth guide sitting tailor-fashion on the sumpter mule upon the baggage. The moon had just gone down, and the morning was pitchy dark, and, as usual, piercingly cold. He soon entered the dismal wood, which I had already traversed, and through which we wended our way for some time, slowly and mournfully. Not a sound was to be heard save the trampling of the animals, not a breath of air moved the leafless branches, no animal stirred in the thickets, no bird, not even the owl, flew over our heads, all seemed desolate and dead, and during my many and far wanderings, I never experienced a greater sensation of loneliness, and a greater desire for conversation and an exchange of ideas than then. To speak to the idiot was useless, for though competent to show the road, with which he was well acquainted, he had no other answer than an uncouth laugh to any question put to him. Thus situated, like many other persons when human comfort is not at hand, I turned my heart to God, and began to commune with Him, the result of which was that my mind soon became quieted and comforted.

We passed on our way uninterrupted; no thieves showed themselves, nor indeed did we see a single individual until we arrived at Pegoens, and from thence to Vendas Novas our fortune was the same. I was welcomed with great kindness by the people of the hostelry of the latter place, who were well acquainted with me on account of my having twice passed the night under their roof. The name of the keeper of this is, or was, Joze Dias Azido, and unlike the generality of those of the same profession as himself in Portugal, he is an honest man, and a stranger and foreigner who takes up his quarters at his inn, may rest assured that he will not be most unmercifully pillaged and cheated when the hour of reckoning shall arrive, as he will not be charged a single re more than a native Portuguese on a similar occasion. I paid at this place exactly one half of the sum which was demanded from me at Arroyolos, where I passed the ensuing night, and where the accommodation was in every respect inferior.

At twelve next day we arrived at Monte More, and, as I was not pressed for time, I determined upon viewing the ruins which cover the top and middle part of the stately hill which towers above the town. Having ordered some refreshment at the inn where we dismounted, I ascended till I arrived at a large wall or rampart, which, at a certain altitude embraces the whole hill. I crossed a rude bridge of stones, which bestrides a small hollow or trench; and passing by a large tower, entered through a portal into the enclosed part of the hill. On the left hand stood a church, in good preservation, and still devoted to the purposes of religion, but which I could not enter, as the door was locked, and I saw no one at hand to open it.

I soon found that my curiosity had led me to a most extraordinary place, which quite beggars the scanty powers of description with which I am gifted. I stumbled on amongst ruined walls, and at one time found I was treading over vaults, as I suddenly started back from a yawning orifice into which my next step, as I strolled musing along, would have precipitated me. I proceeded for a considerable way by the eastern wall, till I heard a tremendous bark, and presently an immense dog, such as those which guard the flocks in the neighbourhood against the wolves, came bounding to attack me "with eyes that glowed and fangs that grinned." Had I retreated, or had recourse to any other mode of defence than that which I invariably practise under such circumstances, he would probably have worried me; but I stooped till my chin nearly touched my knee, and looked him full in the eyes, and as John Leyden says, in the noblest ballad which the Land of Heather has produced:-

"The hound he yowled and back he fled, As struck with fairy charm."

It is a fact known to many people, and I believe it has been frequently stated, that no large and fierce dog or animal of any kind, with the exception of the bull, which shuts its eyes and rushes blindly forward, will venture to attack an individual who confronts it with a firm and motionless countenance. I say large and fierce, for it is much easier to repel a bloodhound or bear of Finland in this manner than a dunghill cur or a terrier, against which a stick or a stone is a much more certain defence. This will astonish no one who considers that the calm reproving glance of reason, which allays the excesses of the mighty and courageous in our own species, has seldom any other effect than to add to the insolence of the feeble and foolish, who become placid as doves upon the infliction of chastisements, which if attempted to be applied to the former would only serve to render them more terrible, and like gunpowder cast on a flame, cause them in mad desperation to scatter destruction around them.

The barking of the dog brought out from a kind of alley an elderly man, whom I supposed to be his master, and of whom I made some inquiries respecting the place. The man was civil, and informed me that he served as a soldier in the British army, under the "great lord," during the Peninsular war. He said that there was a convent of nuns a little farther on, which he would show me, and thereupon led the way to the south-east part of the wall, where stood a large dilapidated edifice.

We entered a dark stone apartment, at one corner of which was a kind of window occupied by a turning table, at which articles were received into the convent or delivered out. He rang the bell, and, without saying a word, retired, leaving me rather perplexed; but presently I heard, though the speaker was invisible, a soft feminine voice demanding who I was, and what I wanted. I replied that I was an Englishman travelling into Spain, and that passing through Monte Moro I had ascended the hill for the purpose of seeing the ruins. The voice then said, "I suppose you are a military man going to fight against the king, like the rest of your countrymen." "No," said I, "I am not a military man, but a Christian, and I go not to shed blood but to endeavour to introduce the gospel of Christ into a country where it is not known;" whereupon there was a stifled titter, I then inquired if there were any copies of the Holy Scriptures in the convent, but the friendly voice could give me no information on that point, and I scarcely believe that its possessor understood the purport of my question. It informed me, that the office of lady abbess of the house was an annual one, and that every year there was a fresh superior; on my inquiring whether the nuns did not frequently find the time exceedingly heavy on their hands, it stated that, when they had nothing better to do, they employed themselves in making cheesecakes, which were disposed of in the neighbourhood. I thanked the voice for its communications, and walked away. Whilst proceeding under the wall of the house towards the south-west, I heard a fresh and louder tittering above my head, and looking up, saw three or four windows crowded with dusky faces, and black waving hair; these belonged to the nuns, anxious to obtain a view of the stranger. After kissing my hand repeatedly, I moved on, and soon arrived at the south-west end of this mountain of curiosities. There I found the remains of a large building, which seemed to have been originally erected in the shape of a cross. A tower at its eastern entrance was still entire; the western side was quite in ruins, and stood on the verge of the hill overlooking the valley, at the bottom of which ran the stream I have spoken of on a former occasion.

The day was intensely hot, notwithstanding the coldness of the preceding nights; and the brilliant sun of Portugal now illumined a landscape of entrancing beauty. Groves of cork trees covered the farther side of the valley and the distant acclivities, exhibiting here and there charming vistas, where various flocks of cattle were feeding; the soft murmur of the stream, which was at intervals chafed and broken by huge stones, ascended to my ears and filled my mind with delicious feelings. I sat down on the broken wall and remained gazing, and listening, and shedding tears of rapture; for, of all the pleasures which a bountiful God permitteth his children to enjoy, none are so dear to some hearts as the music of forests, and streams, and the view of the beauties of his glorious creation. An hour elapsed, and I still maintained my seat on the wall; the past scenes of my life flitting before my eyes in airy and fantastic array, through which every now and then peeped trees and hills and other patches of the real landscape which I was confronting; the sun burnt my visage, but I heeded it not; and I believe that I should have remained till night, buried in these reveries, which, I confess, only served to enervate the mind, and steal many a minute which might be most profitably employed, had not the report of the gun of a fowler in the valley, which awakened the echoes of the woods, hills, and ruins, caused me to start on my feet, and remember that I had to proceed three leagues before I could reach the hostelry where I intended to pass the night.

I bent my steps to the inn, passing along a kind of rampart: shortly before I reached the portal, which I have already mentioned, I observed a kind of vault on my right hand, scooped out of the side of the hill; its roof was supported by three pillars, though part of it had given way towards the farther end, so that the light was admitted through a chasm in the top. It might have been intended for a chapel, a dungeon, or a cemetery, but I should rather think for the latter; one thing I am certain of, that it was not the work of Moorish hands, and indeed throughout my wanderings in this place I saw nothing which reminded me of that most singular people. The hill on which the ruins stand was doubtless originally a strong fortress of the Moors, who, upon their first irruption into the peninsula, seized and fortified most of the lofty and naturally strong positions, but they had probably lost it at an early period, so that the broken walls and edifices, which at present cover the hill, are probably remains of the labours of the Christians after the place had been rescued from the hands of the terrible enemies of their faith. Monte Moro will perhaps recall Cintra to the mind of the traveller, as it exhibits a distant resemblance to that place; nevertheless, there is something in Cintra wild and savage, to which Monte Moro has no pretension; its scathed and gigantic crags are piled upon each other in a manner which seems to menace headlong destruction to whatever is in the neighbourhood; and the ruins which still cling to those crags seem more like eagles' nests than the remains of the habitations even of Moors; whereas those of Monte Moro stand comparatively at their ease on the broad back of a hill, which, though stately and commanding, has no crags nor precipices, and which can be ascended on every side without much difficulty: yet I was much gratified by my visit, and I shall wander far indeed before I forget the voice in the dilapidated convent, the ruined walls amongst which I strayed, and the rampart where, sunk in dreamy rapture, I sat during a bright sunny hour at Monte Moro.

I returned to the inn, where I refreshed myself with tea and very sweet and delicious cheesecakes, the handiwork of the nuns in the convent above. Observing gloom and unhappiness on the countenances of the people of the house, I inquired the reason of the hostess, who sat almost motionless, on the hearth by the fire; whereupon she informed me that her husband was deadly sick with a disorder which, from her description, I supposed to be a species of cholera; she added, that the surgeon who attended him entertained no hopes of his recovery. I replied that it was quite in the power of God to restore her husband in a few hours from the verge of the grave to health and vigour, and that it was her duty to pray to that Omnipotent Being with all fervency. I added, that if she did not know how to pray upon such an occasion, I was ready to pray for her, provided she would join in the spirit of the supplication. I then offered up a short prayer in Portuguese, in which I entreated the Lord to remove, if he thought proper, the burden of affliction under which the family was labouring.

The woman listened attentively, with her hands devoutly clasped, until the prayer was finished, and then gazed at me seemingly with astonishment, but uttered no word by which I could gather that she was pleased or displeased with what I had said. I now bade the family farewell, and having mounted my mule, set forward to Arroyolos.



CHAPTER VII



The Druids' Stone—The Young Spaniard—Ruffianly Soldiers—Evils of War—Estremoz—The Brawl—Ruined Watch Tower—Glimpse of Spain—Old Times and New.

After proceeding about a league and a half, a blast came booming from the north, rolling before it immense clouds of dust; happily it did not blow in our faces, or it would have been difficult to proceed, so great was its violence. We had left the road in order to take advantage of one of those short cuts, which, though possible for a horse or a mule, are far too rough to permit any species of carriage to travel along them. We were in the midst of sands, brushwood, and huge pieces of rock, which thickly studded the ground. These are the stones which form the sierras of Spain and Portugal; those singular mountains which rise in naked horridness, like the ribs of some mighty carcass from which the flesh has been torn. Many of these stones, or rocks, grew out of the earth, and many lay on its surface unattached, perhaps wrested from their bed by the waters of the deluge. Whilst toiling along these wild wastes, I observed, a little way to my left, a pile of stones of rather a singular appearance, and rode up to it. It was a druidical altar, and the most perfect and beautiful one of the kind which I had ever seen. It was circular, and consisted of stones immensely large and heavy at the bottom, which towards the top became thinner and thinner, having been fashioned by the hand of art to something of the shape of scollop shells. These were surmounted by a very large flat stone, which slanted down towards the south, where was a door. Three or four individuals might have taken shelter within the interior, in which was growing a small thorn tree.

I gazed with reverence and awe upon the pile where the first colonies of Europe offered their worship to the unknown God. The temples of the mighty and skilful Roman, comparatively of modern date, have crumbled to dust in its neighbourhood. The churches of the Arian Goth, his successor in power, have sunk beneath the earth, and are not to be found; and the mosques of the Moor, the conqueror of the Goth, where and what are they? Upon the rock, masses of hoary and vanishing ruin. Not so the Druids' stone; there it stands on the hill of winds, as strong and as freshly new as the day, perhaps thirty centuries back, when it was first raised, by means which are a mystery. Earthquakes have heaved it, but its copestone has not fallen; rain floods have deluged it, but failed to sweep it from its station; the burning sun has flashed upon it, but neither split nor crumbled it; and time, stern old time, has rubbed it with his iron tooth, and with what effect let those who view it declare. There it stands, and he who wishes to study the literature, the learning, and the history of the ancient Celt and Cymbrian, may gaze on its broad covering, and glean from that blank stone the whole known amount. The Roman has left behind him his deathless writings, his history, and his songs; the Goth his liturgy, his traditions, and the germs of noble institutions; the Moor his chivalry, his discoveries in medicine, and the foundations of modern commerce; and where is the memorial of the Druidic races? Yonder: that pile of eternal stone!

We arrived at Arroyolos about seven at night. I took possession of a large two-bedded room, and, as I was preparing to sit down to supper, the hostess came to inquire whether I had any objection to receive a young Spaniard for the night. She said he had just arrived with a train of muleteers, and that she had no other room in which she could lodge him. I replied that I was willing, and in about half an hour he made his appearance, having first supped with his companions. He was a very gentlemanly, good-looking lad of seventeen. He addressed me in his native language, and, finding that I understood him, he commenced talking with astonishing volubility. In the space of five minutes he informed me that, having a desire to see the world, he had run away from his friends, who were people of opulence at Madrid, and that he did not intend to return until he had travelled through various countries. I told him that if what he said was true, he had done a very wicked and foolish action; wicked, because he must have overwhelmed those with grief whom he was bound to honour and love, and foolish, inasmuch as he was going to expose himself to inconceivable miseries and hardships, which would shortly cause him to rue the step he had taken; that he would be only welcome in foreign countries so long as he had money to spend, and when he had none, he would be repulsed as a vagabond, and would perhaps be allowed to perish of hunger. He replied that he had a considerable sum of money with him, no less than a hundred dollars, which would last him a long time, and that when it was spent he should perhaps be able to obtain more. "Your hundred dollars," said I, "will scarcely last you three months in the country in which you are, even if it be not stolen from you; and you may as well hope to gather money on the tops of the mountains as expect to procure more by honourable means." But he had not yet sufficiently drank of the cup of experience to attend much to what I said, and I soon after changed the subject. About five next morning he came to my bedside to take leave, as his muleteers were preparing to depart. I gave him the usual Spanish valediction (Vaya usted con Dios), and saw no more of him.

At nine, after having paid a most exorbitant sum for slight accommodation, I started from Arroyolos, which is a town or large village situated on very elevated ground, and discernible afar off. It can boast of the remains of a large ancient and seemingly Moorish castle, which stands on a hill on the left as you take the road to Estremoz.

About a mile from Arroyolos I overtook a train of carts escorted by a number of Portuguese soldiers, conveying stores and ammunition into Spain. Six or seven of these soldiers marched a considerable way in front; they were villainous looking ruffians upon whose livid and ghastly countenances were written murder, and all the other crimes which the decalogue forbids. As I passed by, one of them, with a harsh, croaking voice, commenced cursing all foreigners. "There," said he, "is this Frenchman riding on horseback" (I was on a mule), "with a man" (the idiot) "to take care of him, and all because he is rich; whilst I, who am a poor soldier, am obliged to tramp on foot. I could find it in my heart to shoot him dead, for in what respect is he better than I? But he is a foreigner, and the devil helps foreigners and hates the Portuguese." He continued shouting his remarks until I got about forty yards in advance, when I commenced laughing; but it would have been more prudent in me to have held my peace, for the next moment, with bang—bang, two bullets, well aimed, came whizzing past my ears. A small river lay just before me, though the bridge was a considerable way on my left. I spurred my animal through it, closely followed by my terrified guide, and commenced galloping along a sandy plain on the other side, and so escaped with my life.

These fellows, with the look of banditti, were in no respect better; and the traveller who should meet them in a solitary place would have little reason to bless his good fortune. One of the carriers (all of whom were Spaniards from the neighbourhood of Badajoz, and had been despatched into Portugal for the purpose of conveying the stores), whom I afterwards met in the aforesaid town, informed me that the whole party were equally bad, and that he and his companions had been plundered by them of various articles, and threatened with death if they attempted to complain. How frightful to figure to oneself an army of such beings in a foreign land, sent thither either to invade or defend; and yet Spain, at the time I am writing this, is looking forward to armed assistance from Portugal. May the Lord in his mercy grant that the soldiers who proceed to her assistance may be of a different stamp: and yet, from the lax state of discipline which exists in the Portuguese army, in comparison with that of England and France, I am afraid that the inoffensive population of the disturbed provinces will say that wolves have been summoned to chase away foxes from the sheepfold. O! may I live to see the day when soldiery will no longer be tolerated in any civilized, or at least Christian, country!

I pursued my route to Estremoz, passing by Monte Moro Novo, which is a tall dusky hill, surmounted by an ancient edifice, probably Moorish. The country was dreary and deserted, but offering here and there a valley studded with cork trees and azinheiras. After midday the wind, which during the night and morning had much abated, again blew with such violence as nearly to deprive me of my senses, though it was still in our rear.

I was heartily glad when, on ascending a rising ground, at about four o'clock, I saw Estremoz on its hill at something less than a league's distance. Here the view became wildly interesting; the sun was sinking in the midst of red and stormy clouds, and its rays were reflected on the dun walls of the lofty town to which we were wending. Nor far distant to the south-west rose Serra Dorso, which I had seen from Evora, and which is the most beautiful mountain in the Alemtejo. My idiot guide turned his uncouth visage towards it, and becoming suddenly inspired, opened his mouth for the first time during the day, I might almost say since we had left Aldea Gallega, and began to tell me what rare hunting was to be obtained in that mountain. He likewise described with great minuteness a wonderful dog, which was kept in the neighbourhood for the purpose of catching the wolves and wild boars, and for which the proprietor had refused twenty moidores.

At length we reached Estremoz, and took up our quarters at the principal inn, which looks upon a large plain or market-place occupying the centre of the town, and which is so extensive that I should think ten thousand soldiers at least might perform their evolutions there with case.

The cold was far too terrible to permit me to remain in the chamber to which I had been conducted; I therefore went down to a kind of kitchen on one side of the arched passage, which led under the house to the yard and stables. A tremendous withering blast poured through this passage, like the water through the flush of a mill. A large cork tree was blazing in the kitchen beneath a spacious chimney; and around it were gathered a noisy crew of peasants and farmers from the neighbourhood, and three or four Spanish smugglers from the frontier. I with difficulty obtained a place amongst them, as a Portuguese or a Spaniard will seldom make way for a stranger, till called upon or pushed aside, but prefers gazing upon him with an expression which seems to say, I know what you want, but I prefer remaining where I am.

I now first began to observe an alteration in the language spoken; it had become less sibilant, and more guttural; and, when addressing each other, the speakers used the Spanish title of courtesy usted, or your worthiness, instead of the Portuguese high flowing vossem se, or your lordship. This is the result of constant communication with the natives of Spain, who never condescend to speak Portuguese, even when in Portugal, but persist in the use of their own beautiful language, which, perhaps, at some future period, the Portuguese will generally adopt. This would greatly facilitate the union of the two countries, hitherto kept asunder by the natural waywardness of mankind.

I had not been seated long before the blazing pile, when a fellow, mounted on a fine spirited horse, dashed from the stables through the passage into the kitchen, where he commenced displaying his horsemanship, by causing the animal to wheel about with the velocity of a millstone, to the great danger of everybody in the apartment. He then galloped out upon the plain, and after half an hour's absence returned, and having placed his horse once more in the stable, came and seated himself next to me, to whom he commenced talking in a gibberish of which I understood very little, but which he intended for French. He was half intoxicated, and soon became three parts so, by swallowing glass after glass of aguardiente. Finding that I made him no answer, he directed his discourse to one of the contrabandistas, to whom he talked in bad Spanish. The latter either did not or would not understand him; but at last, losing patience, called him a drunkard, and told him to hold his tongue. The fellow, enraged at this contempt, flung the glass out of which he was drinking at the Spaniard's head, who sprang up like a tiger, and unsheathing instantly a snick and snee knife, made an upward cut at the fellow's cheek, and would have infallibly laid it open, had I not pulled his arm down just in time to prevent worse effects than a scratch above the lower jawbone, which, however, drew blood.

The smuggler's companions interfered, and with much difficulty led him off to a small apartment in the rear of the house, where they slept, and kept the furniture of their mules. The drunkard then commenced singing, or rather yelling, the Marseillois hymn; and after having annoyed every one for nearly an hour, was persuaded to mount his horse and depart, accompanied by one of his neighbours. He was a pig merchant of the vicinity, but had formerly been a trooper in the army of Napoleon, where, I suppose, like the drunken coachman of Evora, he had picked up his French and his habits of intoxication.

From Estremoz to Elvas the distance is six leagues. I started at nine next morning; the first part of the way lay through an enclosed country, but we soon emerged upon wild bleak downs, over which the wind, which still pursued us, howled most mournfully. We met no one on the route; and the scene was desolate in the extreme; the heaven was of a dark grey, through which no glimpse of the sun was to be perceived. Before us, at a great distance, on an elevated ground, rose a tower—the only object which broke the monotony of the waste. In about two hours from the time when we first discovered it, we reached a fountain, at the foot of the hill on which it stood; the water, which gushed into a long stone trough, was beautifully clear and transparent, and we stopped here to water the animals.

Having dismounted, I left the guide, and proceeded to ascend the hill on which the tower stood. Though the ascent was very gentle I did not accomplish it without difficulty; the ground was covered with sharp stones, which, in two or three instances, cut through my boots and wounded my feet; and the distance was much greater than I had expected. I at last arrived at the ruin, for such it was. I found it had been one of those watch towers or small fortresses called in Portuguese atalaias; it was square, and surrounded by a wall, broken down in many places. The tower itself had no door, the lower part being of solid stone work; but on one side were crevices at intervals between the stones, for the purpose of placing the feet, and up this rude staircase I climbed to a small apartment, about five feet square, from which the top had fallen. It commanded an extensive view from all sides, and had evidently been built for the accommodation of those whose business it was to keep watch on the frontier, and at the appearance of an enemy to alarm the country by signals—probably by a fire. Resolute men might have defended themselves in this little fastness against many assailants, who must have been completely exposed to their arrows or musketry in the ascent.

Being about to leave the place, I heard a strange cry behind a part of the wall which I had not visited, and hastening thither, I found a miserable object in rags, seated upon a stone. It was a maniac— a man about thirty years of age, and I believe deaf and dumb; there he sat, gibbering and mowing, and distorting his wild features into various dreadful appearances. There wanted nothing but this object to render the scene complete; banditti amongst such melancholy desolation would have been by no means so much in keeping. But the maniac, on his stone, in the rear of the wind-beaten ruin, overlooking the blasted heath, above which scowled the leaden heaven, presented such a picture of gloom and misery as I believe neither painter nor poet ever conceived in the saddest of their musings. This is not the first instance in which it has been my lot to verify the wisdom of the saying, that truth is sometimes wilder than fiction.

I remounted my mule, and proceeded till, on the top of another hill, my guide suddenly exclaimed, "there is Elvas." I looked in the direction in which he pointed, and beheld a town perched on the top of a lofty hill. On the other side of a deep valley towards the left rose another hill, much higher, on the top of which is the celebrated fort of Elvas, believed to be the strongest place in Portugal. Through the opening between the fort and the town, but in the background and far in Spain, I discerned the misty sides and cloudy head of a stately mountain, which I afterwards learned was Albuquerque, one of the loftiest of Estremadura.

We now got into a cultivated country, and following the road, which wound amongst hedgerows, we arrived at a place where the ground began gradually to shelve down. Here, on the right, was the commencement of an aqueduct by means of which the town on the opposite hill was supplied; it was at this point scarcely two feet in altitude, but, as we descended, it became higher and higher, and its proportions more colossal. Near the bottom of the valley it took a turn to the left, bestriding the road with one of its arches. I looked up, after passing under it; the water must have been flowing near a hundred feet above my head, and I was filled with wonder at the immensity of the structure which conveyed it. There was, however, one feature which was no slight drawback to its pretensions to grandeur and magnificence; the water was supported not by gigantic single arches, like those of the aqueduct of Lisbon, which stalk over the valley like legs of Titans, but by three layers of arches, which, like three distinct aqueducts, rise above each other. The expense and labour necessary for the erection of such a structure must have been enormous; and, when we reflect with what comparative ease modern art would confer the same advantage, we cannot help congratulating ourselves that we live in times when it is not necessary to exhaust the wealth of a province to supply a town on a hill with one of the first necessaries of existence.



CHAPTER VIII



Elvas—Extraordinary Longevity—The English Nation—Portuguese Ingratitude—Illiberality—Fortifications—Spanish Beggar—Badajoz- -The Custom House.

Arrived at the gate of Elvas, an officer came out of a kind of guard house, and, having asked me some questions, despatched a soldier with me to the police office, that my passport might be viseed, as upon the frontier they are much more particular with respect to passports than in other parts. This matter having been settled, I entered an hostelry near the same gate, which had been recommended to me by my host at Vendas Novas, and which was kept by a person of the name of Joze Rosado. It was the best in the town, though, for convenience and accommodation, inferior to a hedge alehouse in England. The cold still pursued me, and I was glad to take refuge in an inner kitchen, which, when the door was not open, was only lighted by a fire burning somewhat dimly on the hearth. An elderly female sat beside it in her chair, telling her beads: there was something singular and extraordinary in her look, as well as I could discern by the imperfect light of the apartment. I put a few unimportant questions to her, to which she replied, but seemed to be afflicted to a slight degree with deafness. Her hair was becoming grey, and I said that I believed she was older than myself, but that I was confident she had less snow on her head.

"How old may you be, cavalier?" said she, giving me that title which in Spain is generally used when an extraordinary degree of respect is wished to be exhibited. I answered that I was near thirty. "Then," said she, "you were right in supposing that I am older than yourself; I am older than your mother, or your mother's mother: it is more than a hundred years since I was a girl, and sported with the daughters of the town on the hillside." "In that case," said I, "you doubtless remember the earthquake." "Yes," she replied, "if there is any occurrence in my life that I remember, it is that: I was in the church of Elvas at the moment, hearing the mass of the king, and the priest fell on the ground, and let fall the Host from his hands. I shall never forget how the earth shook; it made us all sick; and the houses and walls reeled like drunkards. Since that happened I have seen fourscore years pass by me, yet I was older then than you are now."

I looked with wonder at this surprising female, and could scarcely believe her words. I was, however, assured that she was in fact upwards of a hundred and ten years of age, and was considered the oldest person in Portugal. She still retained the use of her faculties in as full a degree as the generality of people who have scarcely attained the half of her age. She was related to the people of the house.

As the night advanced, several persons entered for the purpose of enjoying the comfort of the fire and for the sake of conversation, for the house was a kind of news room, where the principal speaker was the host, a man of some shrewdness and experience, who had served as a soldier in the British army. Amongst others was the officer who commanded at the gate. After a few observations, this gentleman, who was a good-looking young man of five-and-twenty, began to burst forth in violent declamation against the English nation and government, who, he said, had at all times proved themselves selfish and deceitful, but that their present conduct in respect to Spain was particularly infamous, for though it was in their power to put an end to the war at once, by sending a large army thither, they preferred sending a handful of troops, in order that the war might be prolonged, for no other reason than that it was of advantage to them. Having paid him an ironical compliment for his politeness and urbanity, I asked whether he reckoned amongst the selfish actions of the English government and nation, their having expended hundreds of millions of pounds sterling, and an ocean of precious blood, in fighting the battles of Spain and Portugal against Napoleon. "Surely," said I, "the fort of Elvas above our heads, and still more the castle of Badajoz over the water, speak volumes respecting English selfishness, and must, every time you view them, confirm you in the opinion which you have just expressed. And then, with respect to the present combat in Spain, the gratitude which that country evinced to England after the French, by means of English armies, had been expelled,— gratitude evinced by discouraging the trade of England on all occasions, and by offering up masses in thanksgiving when the English heretics quitted the Spanish shores,—ought now to induce England to exhaust and ruin herself, for the sake of hunting Don Carlos out of his mountains. In deference to your superior judgment," continued I to the officer, "I will endeavour to believe that it would be for the advantage of England were the war prolonged for an indefinite period; nevertheless, you would do me a particular favour by explaining by what process in chemistry blood shed in Spain will find its way into the English treasury in the shape of gold."

As he was not ready with his answer, I took up a plate of fruit which stood on the table beside me, and said, "What do you call these fruits?" "Pomegranates and bolotas," he replied. "Right," said I, "a home-bred Englishman could not have given me that answer; yet he is as much acquainted with pomegranates and bolotas as your lordship is with the line of conduct which it is incumbent upon England to pursue in her foreign and domestic policy."

This answer of mine, I confess, was not that of a Christian, and proved to me how much of the leaven of the ancient man still pervaded me; yet I must be permitted to add, that I believe no other provocation would have elicited from me a reply so full of angry feeling: but I could not command myself when I heard my own glorious land traduced in this unmerited manner. By whom? A Portuguese! A native of a country which has been twice liberated from horrid and detestable thraldom by the hands of Englishmen. But for Wellington and his heroes, Portugal would have been French at this day; but for Napier and his mariners, Miguel would now be lording it in Lisbon. To return, however, to the officer; every one laughed at him, and he presently went away.

The next day I became acquainted with a respectable tradesman of the name of Almeida, a man of talent, though rather rough in his manners. He expressed great abhorrence of the papal system, which had so long spread a darkness like that of death over his unfortunate country, and I had no sooner informed him that I had brought with me a certain quantity of Testaments, which it was my intention to leave for sale at Elvas, than he expressed a great desire to undertake the charge, and said that he would do the utmost in his power to procure a sale for them amongst his numerous customers. Upon showing him a copy, I remarked, your name is upon the title page; the Portuguese version of the Holy Scriptures, circulated by the Bible Society, having been executed by a Protestant of the name of Almeida, and first published in the year 1712; whereupon he smiled, and observed that he esteemed it an honour to be connected in name at least with such a man. He scoffed at the idea of receiving any remuneration, and assured me that the feeling of being permitted to co-operate in so holy and useful a cause as the circulation of the Scriptures was quite a sufficient reward.

After having accomplished this matter, I proceeded to survey the environs of the place, and strolled up the hill to the fort on the north side of the town. The lower part of the hill is planted with azinheiras, which give it a picturesque appearance, and at the bottom is a small brook, which I crossed by means of stepping stones. Arrived at the gate of the fort, I was stopped by the sentry, who, however, civilly told me, that if I sent in my name to the commanding officer he would make no objection to my visiting the interior. I accordingly sent in my card by a soldier who was lounging about, and, sitting down on a stone, waited his return. He presently appeared, and inquired whether I was an Englishman; to which, having replied in the affirmative, he said, "In that case, sir, you cannot enter; indeed, it is not the custom to permit any foreigners to visit the fort." I answered that it was perfectly indifferent to me whether I visited it or not; and, having taken a survey of Badajoz from the eastern side of the hill, descended by the way I came.

This is one of the beneficial results of protecting a nation and squandering blood and treasure in its defence. The English, who have never been at war with Portugal, who have fought for its independence on land and sea, and always with success, who have forced themselves by a treaty of commerce to drink its coarse and filthy wines, which no other nation cares to taste, are the most unpopular people who visit Portugal. The French have ravaged the country with fire and sword, and shed the blood of its sons like water; the French buy not its fruits and loathe its wines, yet there is no bad spirit in Portugal towards the French. The reason of this is no mystery; it is the nature not of the Portuguese only, but of corrupt and unregenerate man, to dislike his benefactors, who, by conferring benefits upon him, mortify in the most generous manner his miserable vanity.

There is no country in which the English are so popular as in France; but, though the French have been frequently roughly handled by the English, and have seen their capital occupied by an English army, they have never been subjected to the supposed ignominy of receiving assistance from them.

The fortifications of Elvas are models of their kind, and, at the first view, it would seem that the town, if well garrisoned, might bid defiance to any hostile power; but it has its weak point: the western side is commanded by a hill, at the distance of half a mile, from which an experienced general would cannonade it, and probably with success. It is the last town in this part of Portugal, the distance to the Spanish frontier being barely two leagues. It was evidently built as a rival to Badajoz, upon which it looks down from its height across a sandy plain and over the sullen waters of the Guadiana; but, though a strong town, it can scarcely be called a defence to the frontier, which is open on all sides, so that there would not be the slightest necessity for an invading army to approach within a dozen leagues of its walls, should it be disposed to avoid them. Its fortifications are so extensive that ten thousand men at least would be required to man them, who, in the event of an invasion, might be far better employed in meeting the enemy in the open field. The French, during their occupation of Portugal, kept a small force in this place, who, at the approach of the British, retreated to the fort, where they shortly after capitulated.

Having nothing farther to detain me at Elvas, I proceeded to cross the frontier into Spain. My idiot guide was on his way back to Aldea Gallega; and, on the fifth of January, I mounted a sorry mule without bridle or stirrups, which I guided by a species of halter, and followed by a lad who was to attend me on another, I spurred down the hill of Elvas to the plain, eager to arrive in old chivalrous romantic Spain. But I soon found that I had no need to quicken the beast which bore me, for though covered with sores, wall-eyed, and with a kind of halt in its gait, it cantered along like the wind.

In little more than half an hour we arrived at a brook, whose waters ran vigorously between steep banks. A man who was standing on the side directed me to the ford in the squeaking dialect of Portugal; but whilst I was yet splashing through the water, a voice from the other bank hailed me, in the magnificent language of Spain, in this guise: "O Senor Caballero, que me de usted una limosna por amor de Dios, una limosnita para que io me compre un traguillo de vino tinto" (Charity, Sir Cavalier, for the love of God, bestow an alms upon me, that I may purchase a mouthful of red wine). In a moment I was on Spanish ground, as the brook, which is called Acaia, is the boundary here of the two kingdoms, and having flung the beggar a small piece of silver, I cried in ecstasy "Santiago y cierra Espana!" and scoured on my way with more speed than before, paying, as Gil Blas says, little heed to the torrent of blessings which the mendicant poured forth in my rear: yet never was charity more unwisely bestowed, for I was subsequently informed that the fellow was a confirmed drunkard, who took his station every morning at the ford, where he remained the whole day for the purpose of extorting money from the passengers, which he regularly spent every night in the wine-shops of Badajoz. To those who gave him money he returned blessings, and to those who refused, curses; being equally skilled and fluent in the use of either.

Badajoz was now in view, at the distance of little more than half a league. We soon took a turn to the left, towards a bridge of many arches across the Guadiana, which, though so famed in song and ballad, is a very unpicturesque stream, shallow and sluggish, though tolerably wide; its banks were white with linen which the washer-women had spread out to dry in the sun, which was shining brightly; I heard their singing at a great distance, and the theme seemed to be the praises of the river where they were toiling, for as I approached, I could distinguish Guadiana, Guadiana, which reverberated far and wide, pronounced by the clear and strong voices of many a dark-checked maid and matron. I thought there was some analogy between their employment and my own: I was about to tan my northern complexion by exposing myself to the hot sun of Spain, in the humble hope of being able to cleanse some of the foul stains of Popery from the minds of its children, with whom I had little acquaintance, whilst they were bronzing themselves on the banks of the river in order to make white the garments of strangers: the words of an eastern poet returned forcibly to my mind.

"I'll weary myself each night and each day, To aid my unfortunate brothers; As the laundress tans her own face in the ray, To cleanse the garments of others."

Having crossed the bridge, we arrived at the northern gate, when out rushed from a species of sentry box a fellow wearing on his head a high-peaked Andalusian hat, with his figure wrapped up in one of those immense cloaks so well known to those who have travelled in Spain, and which none but a Spaniard can wear in a becoming manner: without saying a word, he laid hold of the halter of the mule, and began to lead it through the gate up a dirty street, crowded with long-cloaked people like himself. I asked him what he meant, but he deigned not to return an answer, the boy, however, who waited upon me said that it was one of the gate- keepers, and that he was conducting us to the Custom House or Alfandega, where the baggage would be examined. Having arrived there, the fellow, who still maintained a dogged silence, began to pull the trunks off the sumpter mule, and commenced uncording them. I was about to give him a severe reproof for his brutality, but before I could open my mouth a stout elderly personage appeared at the door, who I soon found was the principal officer. He looked at me for a moment and then asked me, in the English language, if I was an Englishman. On my replying in the affirmative, he demanded of the fellow how he dared to have the insolence to touch the baggage, without orders, and sternly bade him cord up the trunks again and place them on the mule, which he performed without uttering a word. The gentleman then asked what the trunks contained: I answered clothes and linen; when he begged pardon for the insolence of the subordinate, and informed him that I was at liberty to proceed where I thought proper. I thanked him for his exceeding politeness, and, under guidance of the boy, made the best of my way to the Inn of the Three Nations, to which I had been recommended at Elvas.



CHAPTER IX



Badajoz—Antonio the Gypsy—Antonio's Proposal—The Proposal Accepted—Gypsy Breakfast—Departure from Badajoz—The Gypsy Donkey—Merida—The Ruined Wall—The Crone—The Land of the Moor— The Black Men—Life in the Desert—The Supper.

I was now at Badajoz in Spain, a country which for the next four years was destined to be the scene of my labour: but I will not anticipate. The neighbourhood of Badajoz did not prepossess me much in favour of the country which I had just entered; it consists chiefly of brown moors, which bear little but a species of brushwood, called in Spanish carrasco; blue mountains are however seen towering up in the far distance, which relieve the scene from the monotony which would otherwise pervade it.

It was at this town of Badajoz, the capital of Estremadura, that I first fell in with those singular people, the Zincali, Gitanos, or Spanish gypsies. It was here I met with the wild Paco, the man with the withered arm, who wielded the cachas (shears) with his left hand; his shrewd wife, Antonia, skilled in hokkano baro, or the great trick; the fierce gypsy, Antonio Lopez, their father-in- law; and many other almost equally singular individuals of the Errate, or gypsy blood. It was here that I first preached the gospel to the gypsy people, and commenced that translation of the New Testament in the Spanish gypsy tongue, a portion of which I subsequently printed at Madrid.

After a stay of three weeks at Badajoz, I prepared to depart for Madrid: late one afternoon, as I was arranging my scanty baggage, the gypsy Antonio entered my apartment, dressed in his zamarra and high-peaked Andalusian hat.

Antonio.—Good evening, brother; they tell me that on the callicaste (day after to-morrow) you intend to set out for Madrilati.

Myself.—Such is my intention; I can stay here no longer.

Antonio.—The way is far to Madrilati: there are, moreover, wars in the land and many chories (thieves) walk about; are you not afraid to journey?

Myself.—I have no fears; every man must accomplish his destiny: what befalls my body or soul was written in a gabicote (book) a thousand years before the foundation of the world.

Antonio.—I have no fears myself, brother; the dark night is the same to me as the fair day, and the wild carrascal as the market- place or the chardy (fair); I have got the bar lachi in my bosom, the precious stone to which sticks the needle.

Myself.—You mean the loadstone, I suppose. Do you believe that a lifeless stone can preserve you from the dangers which occasionally threaten your life?

Antonio.—Brother, I am fifty years old, and you see me standing before you in life and strength; how could that be unless the bar lachi had power? I have been soldier and contrabandista, and I have likewise slain and robbed the Busne. The bullets of the Gabine (French) and of the jara canallis (revenue officers) have hissed about my ears without injuring me, for I carried the bar lachi. I have twenty times done that which by Busnee law should have brought me to the filimicha (gallows), yet my neck has never yet been squeezed by the cold garrote. Brother, I trust in the bar lachi, like the Calore of old: were I in the midst of the gulph of Bombardo (Lyons), without a plank to float upon, I should feel no fear; for if I carried the precious stone, it would bring me safe to shore: the bar lachi has power, brother.

Myself.—I shall not dispute the matter with you, more especially as I am about to depart from Badajoz: I must speedily bid you farewell, and we shall see each other no more.

Antonio.—Brother, do you know what brings me hither?

Myself.—I cannot tell, unless it be to wish me a happy journey: I am not gypsy enough to interpret the thoughts of other people.

Antonio.—All last night I lay awake, thinking of the affairs of Egypt; and when I arose in the morning I took the bar lachi from my bosom, and scraping it with a knife, swallowed some of the dust in aguardiente, as I am in the habit of doing when I have made up my mind; and I said to myself, I am wanted on the frontiers of Castumba (Castile) on a certain matter. The strange Caloro is about to proceed to Madrilati; the journey is long, and he may fall into evil hands, peradventure into those of his own blood; for let me tell you, brother, the Cales are leaving their towns and villages, and forming themselves into troops to plunder the Busne, for there is now but little law in the land, and now or never is the time for the Calore to become once more what they were in former times; so I said, the strange Caloro may fall into the hands of his own blood and be ill-treated by them, which were shame: I will therefore go with him through the Chim del Manro (Estremadura) as far as the frontiers of Castumba, and upon the frontiers of Castumba I will leave the London Caloro to find his own way to Madrilati, for there is less danger in Castumba than in the Chim del Manro, and I will then betake me to the affairs of Egypt which call me from hence.

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