« AnteriorContinuar »
she looked at me. She looked at me, The holy virgin looked at me!" In any other part of the world such numerous processions, through streets like those of Lisbon would be exceedingly beneficial to the dealers in soap and water; for whenever they pass, the conscience of a Portuguese will not allow him to stand on his legs, or even to select a clean place in which to kneel. He drops down immediately on his marrow bones, without looking to see what kind of a cushion there is to receive him, though he usually finds it a soft one. But, alas, in this city the profession of a washerwoman is a most unprofitable one: were it not for the English residents, I am apprehensive that the few of the sisterhood, that there are, would be in great danger of starving. The trade of a hatter must certainly I think be a good one here. The people, from their extreme civility to each other, and from their piety, pull off their hats so many times a day, in all weathers, that they soon get the worse for wear. You cannot go fifty yards in any part of the town without seeing the image of some saint stuck up against the wall in a glass box. If a stranger in passing by one of these scarecrows neglects to uncover his head, he is thought to be on the high road to Pandemonium. For my own part I make it a rule never to pass the most ridiculous without making a profound salutation. A sculptor in Lisbon who had born the character of a freethinker, was dying. A monk came to confess him, and exclaimed, as he held a crucifix before his eyes, "See here is God whom you have so often offended! Do you know him ?" "Oh yes," replied the unfortunate sculptor, "for I made him myself." I do not however think that the Portuguese are in any danger of sinning against the command, "thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image," for those which they worship bear but a very faint resemblance to "any thing in heaven above or in the earth beneath." Before most of these personages a dim taper glimmers at night, which is the only illumination afforded to the streets, and the only beacon which there is to guide the steps of the unwary wanderer amid the perils which abound. Mr. P., an English merchant here a few years since, put up a lamp at his gate, which was broken on the first night it was lighted. He no sooner had it mended than it was again broken. This was several times repeated with the same success. The gentleman was about to abandon his attempt in despair, when at last he determined to try the experiment of putting up a saint behind it. He accordingly had St. Antonio mounted at his door, under whose protection his Janthorn has since remained unmolested and whole.
The obscure entrances to the houses afford a great facility to the perpetration of murder. Many families often reside in one house with a public staircase, which not being lighted, gives op
portunity to the assassin to post himself undiscovered behind the door, and to aim his weapon with certainty. Murder is always perpetrated with knives, which notwithstanding there is a law against the use of them, are worn universally by the common people, who draw them on the slightest provocation. The temper of the knives which they wear is so excellent, that I have seen many that would strike through a dollar.
Close to the north side of the town over the deep valley of Alcantara, is situated the famous acqueduct of Lisbon. Much as I had heard of this grand and magnificent work, when I saw it I was struck with astonishment at its stupendous height. It is indeed a monument of which a nation may be justly proud. In magnitude and grandeur it is unequalled by any work of modern times, and excelled by none which antiquity has left. That part which crosses the valley is called by the Portuguese os Arcos. It rests on thirty-five arches, and extends from mountain to mountain two thousand four hundred feet. In the middle there is a covered arch-way of seven or eight feet, where the water flows on each side through a tunnel of stone. Without there is on each side a gallery or path defended by a stone parapet, over which you may look down to the bottom of the valley. The centre arch is three hundred and thirty-two feet high, being nearly as lofty as the cross of St. Paul's. Its breadth is of a capacity sufficiently ample to admit the passage of a first rate man of war under spread ensigns.
When the spectator is placed beneath, its pointed arches seem changed into a majestic vault that re-echoes every sound. In looking down from the parapet above, your head grows giddy; fearful and dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low. The men beneath seem diminished to pigmies. The echo here is most extraordinary and distinct. I was lately present at a review of dragoons in the valley. Three regiments charged down the hills at once, and not a horse stumbled. The effect, as I beheld the spectacle from the parapet above, which was produced from the sound of arms reverberated, was inconceivably grand. All the while sonorous metal blowing martial sounds. The aqueduct is built of white marble. Such is the goodness of the architecture and the stability of the fabric, that it received not the slightest injury from the great earthquake. John V. has the honour of being the founder of this noble structure. It was begun in 1713, and the whole pile was completed in 1738. On an arch in town which was erected by the inhabitants to the memory of the founder, is the following inscription:
Justus. pius. Aug. felix. P. P.
Imo. prope. victa. natura
Brevi. undivigenti. annorum. spatio.
Immensum. opus. confecit.
Publicae. utilitatis. auctori.
The water is brought from several springs situated near the village of Bellas, at a distance of three leagues. Near the town there are ten smaller arches, and many still smaller in the neighbourhood of its source, In some parts it is conducted under ground. The water enters Lisbon at a place called da Amoreira, where it branches into several other acqueducts, supplies the chafarizes, or fountains, and is emptied into a great reservoir at the opposite extremity of the town. These fountains are very numerous, and might easily be rendered ornamental. In stead of which they are all in a bad taste, and many rather objects of deformity. Some are decorated with a villanous figure of Neptune, in others you see the water running out of a lion's mouth. The greater part are beautified with some squab-faced saint or pudding-cheeked cherubim. Here the water-carriers draw water in small wooden barrels, and carry it to the various families in the city, or cry it about the streets. There is a good regulation by which each of these men is compelled, under heavy penalties, to carry home with him at night a barrel of water, and to hasten with it in case of an alarm of fire. These carriers are all Gallegos. In the public squares and promenades, water is sold by the glass, and they have an excellent method to keep it cool n the heat of summer. They put it in earthen vessels called bucarros, or alcarrazas of clay, which being without glazing, and but little baked, a moisture pervades them like a fine dew, which
continually evaporates and produces a most refreshing coldness. At first they give the water an earthy taste, but this it soon loses by use.
There is but one public walk in Lisbon, and this, by the Portuguese ladies is but little frequented. It is quite paltry. In shape it is an oblong square planted with shrubs and trees, and divided into straight and serpentine alleys. In order to get to it, you are obliged to pass through a sort of market place where there is weekly a horse-fair. This space is unpaved, and of course very dusty and dirty. The stalls of the venders of old clothes are stationed here, so that it is a kind of medium between Monmouth-street and rag-fair. When walking here I have seldom had my solitude disturbed except by two or three monks, whom I have seen extended asleep on the benches. The walk is inclosed by a low wall, on each side of which is a dirty street. A person, while in it, need never be at a loss for an agreeable object of contemplation, particularly if he is out of spirits, or in any degree afflicted with the disorder usually ycleped the blue devils: for at one extremity is a prospect of the Inquisition, and at the other a perspective of the gallows.
The markets in Lisbon are well supplied, except in boisterous weather, when the passage of boats from the opposite side of the river is obstructed. The fruits are most delicious, and they have the greatest profusion of every kind. Beef here is very good, if they knew how to dress it. "God sends victuals, but the devil sends cooks." Veal is rarely to be seen. Calves are not permitted to be killed on account of preserving the breed of cattle. They kill cattle here by piercing the spinal marrow. This mode is much less cruel than ours. There is no fresh butter made in the kingdom, though there is usually an abundant supply of this article from England and Ireland. Corn is brought from the coast of Barbary, and at so low a rate that farmers do not raise more than is requisite for themselves, as it is not an object to bring it to market. In the corn market the price of all sorts of grain is regulated to prevent imposition, and fixed up at each stand. Pork is very good, and the Portuguese hams are in much estimation. The most inferior kind of meat is mutton. Fish constitutes the principal nourishment of the common people. Of salt fish or bacalhao the consumption is immense. On fast days all classes eat it but what forms the chief food and comfort of the poor is the Sardinha, a small kind of herring or sprat which comes annually to the coast of Portugal. They are taken frequently in such vast quantities, that they are given as food to swine, or thrown about the streets to rot. At other times they often do not approach the coast. When there is a want of them, the misery of the poor classes is very great. Bread, wine,
and sardinhas constitute the subsistence of labourers and all the lower orders. Beggars will rub a sardinha on their children's bread to give it a taste. All the corners of the streets, and in all parts of the town, are stalls where women called Frigideiras are continually engaged in frying these fish.
"Every twentieth pace
Salutes th' ungarded nose with such a whiff"
of stinking oil as makes temperance reel. The smell can be only equalled by the agreeable perfumes exhaled by these ladies themselves. October 20.
While I was sitting at breakfast this morning, my landlady came into the room, and asked if either of us were desirous of having a tooth extracted, or any dentistical operation performed, as an acquaintance of hers was in the house who would be exceedingly happy to serve us. My two friends who were at table, said it was a God-send to me, for ever since I left London I had been annoyed by the remnant of a tooth which Ruspini undertook to extract, and which he told me was entirely out. I have been afraid to trust my jaws to the mercy of one of these Portuguese operators, for the signs over their door are almost enough to create a tooth-ach, independent of the formidable appearance of the professors themselves. Their shops are designated by the figure of a bloody tooth of gigantic dimensions, and the professional dress of the fraternity consists of a chain of brass across the shoulders, ornamented at equal distances with rotten teeth. Such pomp and circumstance made so strong an impression that I have not felt at all inclined to let them try experiments on me. I accordingly, by the persuasion of my companions, desired our good hostess to introduce her acquaintance, though I was very far from entertaining an extraordinary degree of confidence in such an applicant, or meaning to make trial of the operator's skill. If such were my sentiments before I beheld her (for we were told the dentist was a lady) they were by no means rendered more favourable when my landlady returned, and ushered in an old German woman on the verge of seventy. I have hitherto thought that the climax of ugliness was attained by the old women of Lisbon; but whatever may be the cause, they certainly have a rival in this female professor. Never did I see a more horrible aspect. Her complexion from a long residence here had acquired a mahogany cast. Her skin was puckered into a thousand wrinkles, like a piece of shrivelled parchment, and every feature settled into a symmetry of ugliHer eyes were like two red peppers, or rather live coals. In her hand she held a huge parchment scroll, so that altogether