Henry John George Herbert Carnarvon.

Portugal and Gallicia: with a review of the social and political ..., Volume 1 online

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tuous bill of fare for a Spanish country inn:
forks abounded, but when I called for a knife, I
was told that no such implement was kept in the
house, on a principle of self-preservation. The
reason given was eminently Spanish; but in fact
the road was chiefly frequented by smugglers,
who live well, but always carry their own knives ;
and this was the real cause of the deficiency.

The same curious contradictions are occasion-
ally foimd in the higher ranks. I remember
sleeping at the house of a decayed noble, who

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received me with the utmost hospitality. My
sleeping apartment was, however, destitute of the
most common conveniences of life ; my bed had
no curtains, there was not a looking-glass, there
was not a chair in the room. Such being the
case, I was surprised, and somewhat amused, at
seeing a menial, attired in a faded livery of green
and gold, enter my apartment with much state,
bearing a basin of massive silver, which he was
himself compelled to hold, because there was no
table on which he could place that ponderous relic
of the departed splendour of the house.

A quarter of a league from Ovar we reached
the ne plus ultra of abominable inns. I had
divided my journey badly, and often fell in ^vith
worse accommodation than I should have found if
I had adhered to the regular posts ; and, in this
instance, I believe, I was the first person above
the rank of a muleteer whom my friend the inn-
keeper had ever entertained. As I arrived late,
stale bread was my only supper, and straw my
only bed. Growling dogs and famished cats
contested the crumbs that fell from my board,
and vermin sported around me in lively proiusion.
My servant Antonio lost the keys of my trunk,
and the muleteer his way. So closed the night.

On the following day the road was sandy, and
my progress slow. Soon after I left Ovar, I over-
took a young woman, of great personal attrac-

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tions> journeying to Oporto, attended by three
servants. I greeted her, according to the custom
of the country ; and as we were travelling on the
same road, we naturally fell into a conversation^
which she kept up with liveliness and spirit. Her
servants were barefooted : they wore a red sash, a
laced jacket with rich silver buttons, a large hat,
and ear-rings of solid gold. The ctirious mixture
of familiar dialogue and goodnatured authority
which characterized her intercourse with them re-
vived classical associations, illustrated the simple
manners of an earlier age, and seemed to realize
the description of the Grecian dames amid their
handmaids : other circumstances contributed to
keep up the illusion. Her regular and noble fea-
tures reminded me of those beautiful models of
ancient art with which no modern sculpture can
bear competition. Her costume might, in some
degree, be considered classical, and was admirably
adapted to set forth the faultless outline of her
face. She stopped at a friend's house near Oporto,
and we separated; but we afterwards renewed
our acquaintance, and I heard from her own lips
the story of her life — a simple but romantic tale.
It is but short, for she was still very young.

She became acquainted, at the early age of
sixteen, with a young man, only a few years her
senior, but greatly her superior in rank. Ac-
quaintance gave birth to . attachment, and the

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difficulties which prevented their union height-
ened that feeling into the most ardent love. Her
lover's family contemplated the possibility of such
an event with dread ; but her father encouraged
their intercourse and the plighted couple met,
every evening, under the shade of the garden
fig-tree, and exchanged vows of eternal fidelity.
The impetuous but resolute attachment of her
young admirer at length appeared to overcome
the opposition of his family ; and he arrived one
evening at the trysting place in»'high spirits, and
entertaining sanguine hopes. They spent a few
delightful hours in the fiill enjoyment of recipro-
cal confidence, and separated with the belief that
they would speedily be united, to part no more ;
but from that hour they never met again, either
in sorrow or in joy. Her lover's father, anxious
to avert from his family the disgrace of an un-
equal alliance, had appeared to relent^ for the
purpose of executing his designs with greater
facility. He had already conferred with the civil
authorities, and that very night his son was
arrested, and conveyed to a place of strict con-
finement, where he was seized with an infectious
fever, of which he died in a few days, in spite of
every exertion to save him.

She married two years afterwards, and con-
fessed to me that she was perfectly happy. A
prior attachment sometimes continues to exist in

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a woman's mind long after marriage ; but, except
in a person of very deeply-rooted affections, rarely
survives the birth of a child : from that hour the
current of her thoughts becomes clianged; new
duties, new feelings, new hopes arise, to banish
former regrets, and

" She who lately loved the best,
Forgets she loved at all."

I observed in my pretty heroine a striking
instance of those sudden bursts of quick and
sensitive feeling which seem inherent in the
southern temperament. Although she spoke of
her first ill-fated lover with calmness, almost with
indifference, and confessed that she had long
ceased to regret the difficulties which prevented
their union : yet once, as she dwelt upon past
scenes, and recalled a thousand instances of his
boyish devotion, her voice changed, her dark
eyes filled with tears, and her whole soul seemed
to revert, with undiminished affection, to the
object of her early love. Her emotion was but
transient; yet I am convinced that, while it
lasted, she would have renounced every earthly
tie to be restored to him who had been the first
to win her affections, and was then mouldering in
the grave.

As I approached Gporto, the liveliness of the
national character became very perceptible : the

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women delighted in jest and repartee, and some-
times carried their facetious humour to a very
inconvenient extent, by misdirecting me on my
road. Good-nature, however, ultimately pre-
vailed, and they always apprized me of the mistake
into which they had led me after I had proceeded
a few steps in the wrong direction : but this kind
of raillery, tolerably diverting in the fair sex, was
positively offensive when practised by the men.
As I passed through a little village, I saw a
woman standing in the street, wringing her
hands, and pouring forth the wildest lamenta-
tions. I inquired into the cause of her grief, and
heard that thieves had broken into her house
during her absence. The poor woman suspected
that she had been robbed of all her little trea-
sure, but had not courage to ascertain the extent
of her loss. As no saving-banks, or institutions
of that kind, exist in Portugal, the peasants either
hoard their earnings in strong boxes, or lay them
out in purchasing golden trinkets, of which they
are passionately fond : so that a successful attack
upon then' cottages may deprive them of the little
store which they have accumulated by years of
industrious exertion. The handsome ear-rings
and chains of solid gold, worn by women among
the lower classes, excited my surprise, till I dis-
covered that they regularly invest their money
in the acquisition of these ornaments : so that, by

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an unusual combination^ the increase of the family
wealth, and the gratification of their taste for
personal decoration, go hand in hand; and as
these trinkets are generally of solid gold, and
made with little regard to fashion, their value is
easily ascertained, and they are converted into
cash without difficulty.

At length I reached Oporto, an ancient and
very picturesque town: the streets, with a few
noble exceptions, are narrow, and the houses high
and ornamented with handsome balconies. That
part of the city which overhangs the Douro is
strikingly beautiful, the river itself is fine and
clear, and the banks bold, and partially wooded.
The concourse of people was so great at Oporto
when I arrived, that I passed from inn to inn,
and from one extremity of the city to the other,
without being able to procure an apartment.
The absence of any furnished lodgings shows the
little progress which this great city has made in
some of the most essential comforts of life, while
in other respects it has rapidly advanced in the
career of civilization. At length I obtained a bed-
room, though not a sitting-room, at the house of
a mulatto, where, as I entered, a large party, of a
mixed character, was collecting round the table
d'hote. There were two Germans : one seemed
well informed, and so, I suspect, was the other ;
but as he abused me in the Portuguese language.

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with which he supposed me thoroughly unac-
quainted, I will not dilate upon his merits.

I chanced to sit next a mild and intelligent
Englishman, Mr. Waterhouse, who had resided
many years in PortugaL The conversation
turned on recent events. The retirement of
Count Saldanha, the disturbances which followed
his resignation, the measures adopted in conse-
quence by Sir Thomas Stubbs, and his recall from
the government of Oporto, were circumstances
which excited the public mind at that time in a
very high degree, and were discussed with
unusual warmth.

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( 67 )


Count and Countess of Villa Flor — Portuguese society — Effect of
the recent changes on the Portuguese Character — Author leaves
Oporto — ^Tremeodous Storm — Fall of Locusts — Description of
the Traz os Montes — ^The Valentoines — Feudal manners of the
Nobles — Dinner at the Capitan Mor— Character and Man-
sion of the venerable Senhor Joaquim — Lamego — 'Hospitality
of Senhor Ferreira — Superstition of the Enchanted Mooress —
Return to Oporto.

Count Villa Flob, since that time become Duke
of Terceira^ had assumed the government of
Oporto a few days before I reached that city;
and, on my arrival, kindly offered me apart-
ments in his house, and the use of his stud, — a
hospitality characteristic of the Portuguese, but
particularly distinguishing this generous noble,
whose liberality was proverbial both at Lisbon
and Oporto. I declined his offer ; but, establish-
ing myself at the neighbouring inn of Batalha,
became almost an inmate of his house during
my long residence at Oporto. His staff con-
sisted of Don Carlos, brother of the Marquis of
Fronteira, Major Bernardo Sa, now Viscount Sa
da Bandeira, his brother Narcisso, and Major
Mendez. He introduced me to the Countess
Villa Flor, a daughter of the ancient house of

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Tjov16, and descended from the far-famed and
illustrious line of the Mendozas.

The Louie family were originally of British
origin^ and are said to have sprung from an
English knight of the name of Rollim, who led
his vassals to the siege of Lisbon, distinguished
himself in the service of Alphonso the First, and
was rewarded by a grant of land, after the cap-
ture of that city. The Countess was only in
her nineteenth year, and in the first bloom of
that uncommon beauty which drew down the
applause of every Portuguese, and afterwards
excited the admiration of English society. But
although the Countess was still so young, she
had experienced both hardship and danger amid
the turbulent dissensions of her native country.
During the last few years the great had been pecu-
liarly exposed to severe vicissitudes, yet these she
had encountered with a firmness extraordinary in
one so young, so delicate, and so little calculated,
by birth or station, to mix in revolutionary scenes.
Her childhood had been clouded by the ruthless
assassination of her noble father ; she had after-
wards accompanied her husband to a desolate
prison : she now filled the brilliant position which
she was born to occupy, and was so well fitted to
grace; but before a year had revolved, the star of
her destiny had declined, and she was again an
exile fi'om her native land.

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The military government of Oporto, always an
important trust, was of vital consequence in the
actual state of Portugal. Two powerful factions
at that time disputed the political arena, viewed
each other with hatred and suspicion, and threat-
ened to disturb the tranquillity of the city. By
strict impartiality in the discharge of his public
duties, and by an equal and well-judged hospi-
tality to men of all parties. Count Villa Flor
secured the affection of the inhabitants, and miti-
gated those feuds which lay too deep to be eradi-
cated. The mere circumstance of official rank
confers great consideration in Portugal; but in
the person of Count Villa Flor it was united to
high birth and previous reputation ; and although
some individuals kept aloof, from party feelings,
the elite of Oporto crowded to his house, and to
his box at the Opera. In the morning the Count
and Countess rode out, accompanied by their
staff; and I frequently joined them in (heir
excursions to the beautiful environs of Oporto.
In the evening I generally found several persons
assembled at their house ; or if, by chance, there
was no addition to the family circle, I was not
less cordially welcomed, and the hours passed
away in lively conversation.

That I may not hereafter interrupt the thread
of my narrative, when it becomes more eventful,
I will now insert a few remarks on the Portuguese
character, and on the nature of Portuguese

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70 • OPORTO, [CH. III.

society ; premising only that they are somewhat
premature in this part of my work, as I had not
formed such conclusions till after a long residence
at Lisbon and Oporto.

If I could direst myself of every national
partiahty, and suppose myself an inhabitant of
the other hemisphere, travelling solely for my
amusement, noting men and manners, and were
asked in what country society had attained its
most polished form, I should say, in Portugal:
this perfection of manner is perhaps most appre-
ciated by an Englishman, when seen in that
portion of the aristocratic class which has
adopted in minor points the refinements of the
first European society, and has retained the
spirit, while it has in some degree dropped the
exaggerated ceremonial of the old Portuguese
courtesy. Portuguese politeness is delightful,
because it is by no means purely artificial, but
flows in a great measure from a natural kindliness
of feeling.

A Portuguese has a real repugnance to wound
the feelings of the humblest individual, and
sedulously avoids any expression which can pos-
sibly have that effect ; not only because it is ill-
bred, but because the act of inflicting pain on
another is disagreeable to himself. A Portuguese,
possessed of strong sarcastic talent, will seldom
direct it, however veiled, against any individual
present, and will use the utmost circumlocution

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in conveying an unpleasant truth. Even if lie be
aware that the person with whom he is actually
conversing is in the act of deceiving him, he
often disguises his knowledge of the fact from
his apprehension of wounding the feelings of the
deceiver ; or if such a man be too worthless for
consideration, from the fear of grieving his
kindred: to such an extent is their politeness
carried. It may occasionally exceed the proper
bounds ; but still the general influence of these
delicate and considerate feelings is highly bene-
ficial to society, which in Portugal resembles a
vessel impelled by a favouring breeze over a calm
sea, yet undisturbed by any displeasing inequa-
lity of motion.

The restless feeling so often perceptible in
English society hardly exists in Portugal : there
are no ardent aspirations after fashion ; there is
little prepared wit in Portuguese society, and no
one talks for the mere purpose of producing an
effect, but simply because his natural taste leads
him to take an active part in conversation. In
spite of manners apparently artificial, society is
more unaffected in Portugal than superficial ob-
servers would at first suppose. Dandyism is un-
known among their men, and coquetry, so com-
mon among Spanish women, is little in vogue
among the fair Portuguese. They do not pos-
sess, to the same extent, the heady passions and
romantic feelings of their beautiftil neighbours.

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72 OPORTO. [cH. in.

but they are softer, more tractable, and equally
afiectionate. Even when they err, the aber-
rations of a married Portuguese never spring
firom fashion or caprice, seldom from vanity, and,
however culpable, are always the result of real

Certainly, with some exceptions, the women are
not highly educated ; they feel little interest in
general subjects, and consequently have little
general conversation. A stranger may at first
draw an unfavourable inference as to their natu-
ral powers, because he has few subjects in common
with them; but when once received into their
circle, acquainted with their friends, and initiated
in the little intrigues that are constantly playing
along the surface of society, he becomes de^
lighted with their liveliness, wit, and ready per-
ception of character. The best society in England
is perhaps the best in the world, because it com-
bines civilization of manner with cultivation of
mind ; but, without reference to intellectual cul •
ture, the last finish of polished breeding distin-
guishes, perhaps in a still greater degree, the
higher orders of Portugal. I speak only of the
higher orders, for their superiority of manner over
the middling classes is more strongly marked
than even in England. There is little percep-
tible difierence of manner between the diflFerent
grades of society in Paris ; but though this uni-
formity prevails in revolutionized, it was, I

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Buspect^ unknown to refined and aristocratid


' This characteristic politeness of the Portu-*

guese does not

« ___« only play
Through life's more cultured paths, and charm the way,"

but the kindliness of heart from which it flows
tatends to all classes and affects all relations : it
appears in the intercourse of the higher with thd
middling and lower orders^ and softens the natu-*
tal jealousy arising from the distinctions of rank.
An English gentleman, unprovided at the mo^
ment with money, sends a beggar to the devil :
the Sovereign of Portugal calls him his brother,
and regrets that he has nothing to offer him*
Such details may appear trivial, but are really
important ; because these gentle and considerate
manners have promoted a kindly feeling in the
people towards their superiors, and have greatly
contributed to mitigate the bitter sense of actual
privation. The pride of the Portuguese Fidalgos
is chiefly directed against each other, and usually
relates to their family alliances. A Puritano or
Fidalgo, who traces a purely noble descent from
the earliest times, is supposed to form an unequal
alliance when he unites himself to the scion of any
house, however illustrious, if not also a Puritano
by descent. The higher will not ally themselves
to the inferior nobles, and these again will form


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74 opcttTO. [cH. ail.

BO e<mnexion vith tbe commcmftUy ; but ptece^
dency of rank is occasionally superseded in publie
opinion by aniient birth; and some untitled fa-
milies have constantly refused to marry into the
houses of particular 6raadees> because their own
descent is tmquestio&ably more antient^ and there-
fore considered more illustrious.

If thfi nobles are kindly disposed* the people
are, generally speakings extremely loyal, litUe in«
dined to violence» easily led, susceptiUe of kind*
9084, and patient under many privationB: their
virtues flow from their native goodness of dispo*
silion^ their vices are> in some degree, atinbutaUe
to the system under which they have lived. The
overwhelming ^tent o£ the regal prerogative,
which could deprive the highest noble of has
birthright by an exertion of power, — and the cor«
mpt administration of justice^ which could impo«
verish its victim by an act oiB law, — are abuses
which^ in the towns at least, gave rise to habits
of refined dissimulation as the only safeguard
against powerM oppression. In England, during
the reign of Henry VIII., when the dispensatioa
of justice was venal, and the power of the execu-
tive practically uncontrolled, the degradation of
the national character was strongly manifested in
the corruption of our juries and the servility of
our parliaments. In those prostituted assemblies
neither, unoffeading innocence nor undoubted in-

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Cfl. 111.] POLICY. OF WW PEDRO. 76

icgriiy were of aay avail against the xoyal ]tai-
mre ; and the popykr finrma, which ihoold hsve
guarded the popular liberties^ beeame onkf tat
additional ^igine of tjFxannj in the hands of an
cppressire sovereign. Even in Sir Bobert Wal-
pole's time, when the sci^tce of goremm^it had
undergone a total change^ when influence had
superseded prerogative, the politieal honesty of
public men was at a low ebb indeed : a century
of good laws and settled govemmeM have gr»-
dually raised the British character to its present
standard : it only improved with the improve-
ment of our institutkms ; and I know not vdiy
the Portuguese, who naturally possess so many
excellent qualities, should not attain the same
moral elevEtion undar an amelkrated govern*

But I am far from thinking that the pbEcy
pursued after Don Pedro's triumphant return to
Lisbon, in 1834, was calculated to effect an im-
provemcsit in the character of the people. A
government that owes its existence to the pqpular
pi'ineiple must not trench upon the popular pro-
judices of the nation ; a government that professes
to raise the standard of the national morality, and
to inculcate better and higher principles of action,
must itself be strictly just; but neither justice
nor policy were consulted when the privil^es.of
the Peers were invaded, when the convents were


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76 OPORTO. [cH. m.

•desecrated, and when those sacred stipulations
were violated which pretended to secure to the
dispossessed monks a pension for life. The cruel
treatment of the priesthood has exercised a most
•unfavourable influence on the character of the
peasantry : that unsophisticated peasantry, which
possessed many of the noble qualities without the
sanguinary spirit of the Spaniard, and were, till
recently, a loyal and contented race, have become
•generally disaffected to the government; and,
outraged by the injuries inflicted upon a Church
they love and revere, are, even now, in some
parts of the country, armed against the crown;
are living by a system of rapine, from which they
would have lately shrunk with horror; and, con-
47ary to all their previous habits, are feeding
upon the life-blood of their country.

Before I pass on to other scenes, I must take
this opportunity of returning my best thanks to
Mr. Crispin, the British Consul at Oporto, who
hospitably offered me apartments at his house, and
showed me every attention during my residence
in that city; to my banker, Mr. Kingston, and to
the gentlemen of the Factory, of whose civilities I
am highly sensible ; to my friend Mr. Whitely,
the Chaplain of Oporto, a gentleman of great and
Taried talent, I am peculiarly indebted, not only
for the pleasant hours which I spent in his society,
but for many vahiable facts connected with the

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state of Portugal^ which he communicated to me
during our frequent rambles in the neighbour -

On the 12th of October, the anniversary of*
Don Pedro's birth. Count Villa Flor reviewed
the troops, who were well equipped, went through
their evolutions admirably, and received the an-
nouncement of the charter with loud '' Vivas !'* I
put on my uniform of the Somersetshire yeo-'
manry, and accompanied him to the field, where

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Online LibraryHenry John George Herbert CarnarvonPortugal and Gallicia: with a review of the social and political ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 5 of 21)