Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

praising, and the latter censuring them. In fact, they have the same defects as the other sex, being of too low a stature and inclined to corpulency; but their counte. nances are expressive, and their manners animated and friendly ; which, with very fine eyes, long and uncommonly strong hair, very white teeth, full breasts, and extremely beautiful feet, form, in my opinion, a charming assemblage, and compensate other irregularities. Although in Lisbon, as in every other great city, there is no scarcity of courtesans, and though, as their doors stand open, every one may enter, yet they are far less importunate than in London, or the Palais Royal at Paris ; but the description of them in the New Picture of Lisbon, though in some respects true, is on the whole exaggerated. But to return to ladies of condition. Those softer graces which adorn the beauties of the north are rarely seen in Portugal; and perhaps they might as ill become the fire of Portugueze eyes as a burning climate can give them birth. Great beauties, however, may be seen in Lisbon, particularly when the slender northern shape and the white fine skin of those clinates are united with the advantages of the south, producing as it were the most beautiful work of nature.

From this charming subject I am obliged to pass to the uncleanliness of the Portugueze. On leaving England and entering France every species of uncleanliness becomes greater and greater in proportion as we travel southward. The apartments grow constantly more dirty, the privies are more horrible, or totally disappear, and a host of vermin of all kinds swarm round the traveller in his sleep*. The removal of many of these inconveniences has been atteinpted in the new Gerinan and English inns at Lisbon; and in this respect that city is preferable to Madrid. It is necessary to speak of lice, because too much has already been said of them by others; as that they serve the soldiers instead of cards; that they are commonly bitten between the teeth, &c. It is certain, however, that persons of condition are not ashamed openly to kill them, or suffer others to do it.

* This was always so. See Zeileri Itenerar. Hispan. p. 280, Lisboua. They (the extractor does not say who) lodged there with an Italian, and had tolerably good fare, but bad wine, and were molested with so many feas, that, as the author says, they were almost in despair.

It is said that the wife of a minister of state does this not unfrequently at cards in very large companies. This indeed I did not see; but at Caldas in Gerez, a place resorted to for its warm baths, I saw the sister of the bishop and of the governor of Oporto, a charming young widow of an ancient noble family, in an afternoon, before her door, laying her head in the lap of her waiting woman to be loused; and I know for certain that young ladies, when they visit each other, reciprocally perforin this office by way of pastime.

THE TRADE OF BEGGING.

NOTWITHSTANDING the enormous sums collected for the poor, notwithstanding the number of hospitals supported by voluntary contribution in the city and environs of London, there is no place where the feelings of hu. manity receive so many shocks. Every street, every alley presents some miserable object, covered with loathsome sores, blind, mutilated, or exposed almost naked to the keen wintry blast. Speak of this to any of the parish officers, and they will tell you these are all impostors, who, Faquir-like, practise voluntary austerities on themselves, in order to excite compassion, and procure money. Sure this very plea is a disgrace to our police, who ought in that case to apprehend and punish them. Should their distress be real, it is the greatest inhumanity not to relieve them.

How frequently in winter do we see a woman, with two or three half-starved infants hanging about her, apparently dying with the rigours of the season !- If humanity will not instigate the parish officers to take cognizance of them, sound policy ought ; since these very children, thus educated, serve to carry on the succession of thieves and vagabonds.

That begging is a trade, and a very beneficial one, is well known; and it is said, that the community is under the regular government of a king or superior, who appoints to every one a particular district or walk, which walks are farmed out to inferior brethren at certain daily sums. It is also reported, that beggars impose tasks on their children or servants, assigning them the harvest of particular streets, estimating cach at a certain produce, for the amount of which they are bound to account, under

the penalty of a severe beating. A remarkable instance of this I learned from a person of credit, who overheard a beggar saying to a girl, whilst giving him some money, “ What is this for? Han't you been all about Bedford and Bloomsbury-squares ? I am sure, hussey, if Russel. street alone was well begged, it would produce double this sum.” i

In this community, natural defects, or bodily misfors tunes, are reckoned advantages and pre-erniuences. A man who has lost one leg yields the pas to him who wants both; and he who has neither legs nor arms is nearly at the head of his profession, very extraordinary deficiencies excepted ;-an instance of which was given in a sailor, who had but one eye, one leg, and no arms. This man, asking in marriage the daughter of a celebrated blind man, was answered by her father that he thanked him for the honour intended, which he should have accepted, had not his daughter received some overtures from a man who crawled with his hiuder parts in a porridge-pot.

It seems a tixed principle in beggars, never to do a day's work on any account, and rather to run away from à job half completed, than finish it to receive the stipulated hire.

I reinember an old justice, that lived in a village in the vicinity of London, who, from his knowledge of this principle, long contrived to have his fore-court and garden weeded gratis by itinerant beggars. As he had a handsome house near the road, it naturally drew the at. tention of the inumping fraternity. On their application for charity, he constantly asked the usual questions, " Why don't you work ?" to which the usual reply was always made, “ So I would, God bless your worship, if I could get employment.” On this, musing a while, as if inclined by charity, he would set them to weed his court or garden, furnishing them with a hoe and wheelbarrow, and proinising them a shilling when their job was completed. To work then they would go, with much seeming gratitude and alacrity. The justice stayed by them, or visited them from time to time till they had performed two thirds of their task ; he then retired to a private corner or place of espial, in order to prevent their stealing his tools, and there waited for what constantly happened the moment he disappeared, which was the elopement of his workman, who, rather than complete the unfinished third of his work, chose to give up what he had done. This method, with scarce one disappointment, the old justice long practised; till at length his fame having gone forth among the mendicant tribe, he was troubled with no more applications for charity.

AN ALLEGORY. In a dream I thought myself in a solitary temple. I saw a kind of phantom coming towards me, but as he drew near, his form expanded and became more than human; his robe hung majestically down to his feet; six wings whiter than snow, whose extremities were edged with gold, covered a part of his body: then I saw him quit his material substance, which he had put on not to terrify me : his body was of all the colours in the rainbow. He took me by the hair, and I was sensible I was traveling in the etherial plains without any dread, with the ra. pidity of an arrow sent from a bow drawn by a supple and nervous arm.

A thousand glowing orbs rolled beneath me : but I could only cast a rapid glance on all those globes distinguished by the striking colours with which they were diversified

I now suddenly perceived so beautiful, so flourishing, so fertile a country, that I conceived a strong desire to alight upon it. My wishes were instantly gratified ; I felt myself gently landed on its surface, where I was surrounded by a balmy atmosphere. I found myself reposed at the dawn, on the soft verdant grass. I stretched out my arms, in token of gratitude, to iny celestial guide, who pointed to a resplendent sun, towards which, swiftly rising, he disappeared in the luminous body.

I rose, and imagined myself to be transported into the garden of Eden. Every thing inspired my soul with soft tranquillity. The most profound peace covered this new globe; nature was ravishing and incorruptible here, and a delicious freshness expanded my sense to ecstacy; a sweet odour accompanied the air I breathed ; my heart, which beat with an unusual power, was immerged in sea of rapture ; while pleasure, like a pure and immortal light, penetrated the inmost recesses of my soul.

The inhabitants of this happy country came to meet me; and after saluting me they took me by the hand. Their noble countenances inspired confidence and respect; innocence and happiness were depicted in their looks ; they often lifted their eyes towards heaven, and as often uttered a name which I afterwards knew to be that of the Eternal, while their ebeeks were moistened with the tears of gratitude.

I experienced great einotion while I conversed with these sublime beings. They poured out their hearts with the most sincere tenderness; and the voice of reason, most majestic, and no less melting, was, at the same time, conveyed to my enraptured ear.

I soon perceived this abode was totally different from that which I had left. A divine impulse made me fly into their arms ;-1 bowed my knees to them ; but being raised up in the inost endearing manner, I was pressed to the bosoms that enclosed such excellent hearts, and I conceived a presentiment of celestial amity, of that amity which united their souls, and formed the greatest portion of their felicity.

The angel of darkness, with all his artifice, was never able to discover the entrance into this world !--Notwithstanding his ever-watchful malice, he vever found out the means to spread his poison over this happy globe. Anger, envy, and pride, were there unknown; the happiness of one appeared the happiness of all! An ecstatic transport incessantly elevating their souls at the sight of the magnificent and bountiful hand that collected over their heads the most astonishing prodigies of the creation.

The lovely morning, with her humid saffron wings, , distilled the pearly dew from the shrubs and flowers, and the rays of the rising sun multiplied the most enchanting colours, when I perceived a wood embellished by the opening dawn.

The youth of both sexes there sent forth hymns of adoration towards Heaven, and were filled at the same time with the grandeur and majesty of God, which rolled almost visibly over their heads; for in this world of innocence, he vouchsafed to manifest himself by means unknown to our weak understandings.

All things announced his august presenee; the serenity of the air, the dyes of the flowers, the brilliancy of the insects, a kind of universal sensibility spread over all beings, and which vivified bodies that seemed the least susceptible of it, every thing bore the appearance of

« AnteriorContinuar »