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the ascent like prodigious steps, by which a giant might scale
the erminence—the same “wilderness of building" filled up the vast hollow, and rose by a more easy slope to the top of the opposite hills, which were crowned with turrets, domes, mansions, and regal pavilions of a dazzling whiteness—beyond the Tagus, on the southern shore, the coast rose into wild and barren hills, wearing an aspect of the roughest sublimity and grandeur—and, in the midst, occupying the bosom of the great vale, close between the glorious city and the unknown wilds, lay the calm and majestic river, from two to three miles in width, seen with the utmost distinctness to its mouth, on each side of which the two castles which guard it were visible, and spread over with a thousand ships—onward yet farther, far as the eye could reach, the living ocean was glistening, and ships, like specks of the purest white, were seen crossing it to and fro, giving to the scene an imaginary extension by carrying the mind with them to far-distant shores. It was the time of sunset, and clouds of the richest saffron rested on the bosom of the air, and were reflected in softer tints in the waters. Not a whisper reached the ear. “The holy time was quiet as a nun breathless with adoration.” The scene looked like some vision of blissful enchantment, and I scarcely dared to stir or breathe lest it should vanish away. The eastern quarter of Lisbon, which is chiefly built since the great earthquake, stands almost on level ground; and, though surrounded by steep hills, with trees among their precipices, and aerial terraces on their summits, is not in itself very singular or romantic. A square of noble extent, open on the South to the Tagus, which here spreads out into a breadth of many miles, so as to wear almost the appearance of an inland lake, forms the southern part of this modern city. At the south-eastern angle, close to the river, stands the Exchange, which is a square white building, of no particular beauty or size. The sides of the square are occupied with dull looking white buildings, which are chiefly of: fices of state, excepting, indeed, that the plan is incompletely executed, as the unfinished state of the western range of edifices Sadly evinces. In the centre is an equestrian statue of King Joseph, on a scale so colossal, that the image of Charles on horseback at Charing Cross would appear a miniature by its side. From the northern side of this quadrangle run three streets, narrow but built in perfect uniformity, and of more than a quarter of a mile in length, which connect it with another square called the Rocio, of nearly similar magnitude and proportions. The houses in these streets are white, of five stories in height, with shops, more resembling cells, than the brilliant repositories of Cheapside, in the lower departments, and latticed windows in the upper stories.— They have on both sides elevated pathways for foot passengers, neatly paved with blocks of stone, and leaving space for two carriages to pass in the centre. The Rocio is surrounded on three sides with houses resembling those in the streets, and on the north by a range of building belonging to the Inquisition, the subterranean prisons of which extend far beneath the square. A little onward to the north of this area, amidst filthy suburbs, stands the public garden of the city. It is an oblong piece of ground, of considerable extent, surrounded by high walls, but always open at proper hours to the public. It is planted with high trees of the most delicate green, which, however, do not form a mass of impervious shade, but afford many spots of the thickest shelter, and give room for the play of the warm sun-beams, and for the contemplation of the stainless sky. The garden is laid out with more regularity than taste: one broad walk runs completely through it from north to south, on each side of which, beneath the loftier shade, are tall hedge-rows, solid masses of green, cut into the exactest parallelograms. The equal spaces on each side of the middle walk are intersected by similar hedge-rows—sometimes curving into an open circle, surrounded with circular trenches; at others, enclosing an angular space, railed in and cultivated with flowers, and occasionally expanding into shapes yet more fantastic.— There is no intricacy, no beautiful wildness in the scene— “half the platform just reflects the other” in the minutest features—but the green is so fresh and so abundant, and the air so delicately fragrant, that this garden forms a retreat in the warmth of summer which seems almost elysian. There are two small places of public amusement in Lisbon, where dramatic pieces are performed, chiefly taken from the Spanish. The “legitimate drama,” however, is of little attraction, compared with the wonderful contortions and rope.
dancings which these houses exhibit, and which are truly surprising. The Opera House, called the Theatre San Carlos, is, except on a few particular occasions, almost deserted. The audiences are usually so thin, that it is not usual to light up the body of the house, except on particular days, when the rare illumination is duly announced in the bills. I visited it fortunately on the birth-day of the king, which is one of the most splendid of its festivals. Its interior is not much smaller than that of Covent Garden Theatre, though it appears at the first glance much less, from the extreme beauty of the proportions. The form is that of an ellipse, exquisitely turned, intersected at the farther extremity by the stage. The sides are occupied by five tiers of boxes, at least in appearance, for the upper circles, which are appropriated to the populace by way of gallery, are externally uniform with the rest of the theatre. The prevailing colour is white; the ornaments between the boxes, consisting of harps and tasteful devices, are of brown and gold, and elegantly divided into compartments by rims of burnished gold. The middle of the house is occupied by the grand entrance into the pit, the royal box, and the gallery above it, which is in continuation of the higher circle. The royal box is from twelve to fifteen feet in length, and occupies in height the space of three rows of the common boxes. Above are the crown and regal arms in burnished gold, and the sides are supported by statues of the same radiant appearance. Curtains of green silk of a fine texture usually conceal its internal splendours; but on this occasion they were drawn aside at the same moment that the stage was discovered, and displayed the interior illuminated with great brilliancy. This seat of royalty is divided into two stories—a slight gallery being thrown over the back part of it. Its ground is a deep crimson; the top descends towards the back in a beautiful concave, representing a rich veil of ermine. In the front of the lower compartment, behind the seats, is the crown of Portugal figured on deep green velvet; and the sides are adorned with elegant mirrors. The centre of the roof of the theatre is an ellipse, painted to represent the sky with the moon and stars visible; the sides sloping to the upper boxes are of white adorned with gold and crimson. The stage is supported on each side by two pillars of the composite order of white and gold, half in relief, with a brazen statue between each of them. It forms an excellent frame work for a dramatic picture.— The most singular feature of the house is a clock over the centre of the stage, which regularly strikes the hours, without mercy. What a noble invention this for the use of those who contend for the unity of time ! How nicely would it enable the French critics to estimate the value of a tragedy at a single glance . How accurately might the time be measured out in which eternal attachments should be formed, conspiracies planned, and states overthrown; how might the passions of the soul be regulated to a minute, and the rise and swell of the great emotions of the heart determined to a hair; with what accuracy might the moments which the heroes have yet to live be counted out like those of culprits at the Old Bailey ! What huge criticisms of Corneille and Voltaire would that little instrument supply ' What volumes, founded on its movements, would it render superfluous ! Even Grecian regularity must yield before it, and criticism triumph, by this invariable standard, at once over Sophocles and Shakspeare. The scenery was wretched—the singers tolerable—and the band excellent. The ballet took place between the acts of the opera, and was spun out to great length. The dancing consisted partly of wonderful twirlings of the French school, and partly of the more wonderful contortions of the Portuguese; both kinds exceedingly clever, but exhibiting very little of true beauty, grace, or elegance. At the close of the first act, a perfect shower of roses, pinks, and carnations, together with printed sonnets, was poured down from the top of the theatre in honour of his majesty, whose absence, however, even Portuguese loyalty cannot pardon. The churches are the most remarkable of the public buildings of Lisbon; though plain on the outside, they are exceedingly splendid in the interior. The tutelary saints are richer than many Continental princes, though their treasures are only displayed to excite the reverence or the cupidity of the people on high and festal occasions. The most beautiful, though not the largest of the churches which I have examined, is that of the Estrella, which is lined with finely-varied and highly-polished marble, vaulted over with a splendid and sculptured roof, and adorned, in its gilded recesses, with
beautiful pictures. Were it not, indeed, for the impression made on me by one of the latter, I should scarcely have mentioned this edifice, unable as I am technically to describe it. The piece to which I allude is not, that I can discover, held in particular estimation, or the production of any celebrated artist; but it excited in me feelings of admiration and delight, which can never die away. It represents Saint John in the Isle of Patmos, gazing on the vision in which the angels are pouring forth the vials, and with the pen in his hand, ready to commit to sacred and imperishable record the awful and mysterious scenes opened before him. Never did I behold or imagine such a figure. He is sitting, half entranced with wonder at the revelation disclosed to him, half mournfully conscious of the evils which he is darkly to predict to a fated and unheeding world. The face, in its mere form and colouring, is most beautiful: its features are perfectly lovely, though inclining rather to cherubic roundness than Grecian austerity, and its roseate bloom of youth is gently touched and softened by the feelings attendant on the sad and holy vocation of the beloved disciple. The head is bent forward, in eagerness, anxiety, and reverence; the eyebrows arched in wonder, yet bearing in every line some undefinable expression of pity; the eyes are uplifted, and beaming with holy inspiration, yet mild, soft, angelical ; around the exquisitely-formed mouth, sweet tendernesses for the inevitable sorrows of mankind are playing; and the bright chesnut hair, falling in masses over the shoulders, gives to all this expression of high yet soft emotion, a finishing grace and completeness. This figure displays such unspeakable sweetness tempering such prophetic fire; such religious and saintly purity, mingled with so genial a compassion; it is at once so individual and so ideal; so bordering on the celestial, and yet so perfectly within the range of human sympathies; that it is difficult to say, whether the delicious emotions which it inspires partake most of wonder or of love. The image seemed, like sweet music, to sink into the soul, there to remain for ever. To see such a piece is really to be made better and happier.
The recollection is a precious treasure for the feelings and the imagination, of which nothing, while they endure, can deprive them.
The church at Belem, a fortified place on the Tagus, three