« AnteriorContinuar »
the notice of the general en chef, who is said to be a great connoisseur. So singularly had they hit his fancy, that he next morning despatched a messenger with a note to Quintella, complimenting him on the taste he had shewn in his collection, and requesting, as a favour, that the pictures might immediately be sent him by the bearer of the message. He also soon after took occasion to observe to his entertainer how much flattered he felt by his politeness, and how happy he was to see the affection he had manifested to the person of his master, the Great Napoleon, observing at the same time, that as he had seen no house in Lisbon which he liked so well, he intended in future to confer on him the honour of residing in it himself. Quintella has accordingly ever since had the pleasure of maintaining the general and all his staff. He has been obliged to defray all the expenses of his household, and to supply all the splendid entertainments which have been given. The retinue of Junot that is quartered in the house, have drunk upwards of eighty pipes of wine belonging to their host. The French general also conceived for the wife of a Portuguese nobleman, an affection equally ardent as that which was excited by the palace of Quintella. His frenchant, however, in this instance, was gratified with infinitely less reluctance than in the former. He does not appear disposed, after the proof he has given of his acquiescence, to trust himself among his countrymen by remaining behind, but he is to go in the same frigate to France which is destined to convey the general and his cara sposa. The conduct of the French commander in other instances has not apparently been marked by any particular cruelty or severity. Only one execution has taken place under his government. The contributions he has levied on the convents and churches have certainly been very heavy, and immense treasures have been reaped from them. The gems, jewels, and precious stones, that glittered in such profusion, have all been rifled. The huge statues of massy silver, the golden and silver candlesticks, the ornaments of the altars, together with all the paraphernalia of superstition, have been laid hands on, melted down and coined. I saw piled up in the house of a merchant, bars of gold of immense value, which were part of the recovered plunder of the French : but the part which can or will be recovered is very small indeed. The Portugeuse murmur greatly at the vast quantities of spoil which are every day embarking. This is not surprising, when they see loads borne continually by soldiers to the quays, who appear to totter under the weight of their bur. dens, and when they remember that the enemy came naked into the country. Articles the most bulky are carried off under pretext of being baggage of the officers. Vast quantities of gold and silver have been coined by them since the invasion, which the Portuguese were obliged 10 receive at the nominal value ; but these coins have since the convention of Cintra depreciated greatly. The frigate which is appointed to convey Junot to France is so blocked up by what he takes away, that the officers of the ship complain of wanting room. He carries with him no less than twelve carriages of English manufacture. In the knapsacks of many of the private sol. diers who were slain at Vimeira, gold and silver was found to the amount of two or three hundred pounds sterling. Had the plunder of Junot been confined solely to convents and churches; had he done nothing but “shake the bags of hoarding abbots,” it would have been of small consequence to the publick at large ; but the contributions levied on opulent individuals were exceedingly oppressive, and in many instances, nearly ruinous. No class of the community were exempted from these exactions. Even the frail fair ones were taxed, and obliged to take out licences to exercise their profession. The inhabitants accuse the French of violating the articles of the convention, by taking away such quantities of treasure. The Portuguese commander has even entered a protest against the proceedings of the English generals : objecting in very arrogant and harsh terms against every article of that treaty. One would even suppose, from the violent manner in which he thus puts in his veto, that he had actually had some concern himself in the battle of Vimeira. Indeed I understand he does claim the whole victory of that day, and his countrymen seem perfectly convinced of his title to it. It is this man whose conduct was so deservedly and severely reprehended in the despatches of the English general, as base and cowardly. He was repeatedly urged during the action to advance with his troops, but thinking with Falstaff, that the better part of valour was discretion, this prudent commander wisely thought proper to remain neuter until the fate of the day should be decided. He therefore kept at a cautious distance as long as there was any doubt who would be victorious, and when this doubt was removed, like a skilful officer he brought in his gallant troops to share the glories of the battle. The most unpopular of the three French generals is Loison. If the stories related of his conduct be true, they are disgraceful to him not only as a soldier but as a man. At Leyria, in particular, his cruelties are said to have been excessive. The treatment which the unfortunate nuns at that place are said to have received from the soldiers under his command is such as would be too horrible to describe. It is only to be hoped, for the honour of human nalure, that they are somewhat ex. aggerated. The people do not appear to entertain so much dislike of Junot as I imagined. My friend, Mr. T. , has dined several times in his company, at the tables of General Beresford and Sir Arthur Wellesley. On all occasions he expresses the most sovereign contempt for the people of this country, which sentiment he is at no pains to conceal from his own adherents. He speaks in high terms of admiration of the discipline, courage, and appearance of the British troops, and observed that the French and English were the only two nations worthy to contend with each other. Junot is very partial to the English mode of living. Like them he is fond of dining at late hours, and of sitting long oter his bottle. His appearance is martial, though not handsome. He is said to be a favourite general of Buonaparte, of whom the following circumstance, relative to the origin of Junot's promotion, is related. Having occasion during an engagement to send a despatch, and being unattended at the moment by any of his staff, he hastily demanded of some soldiers near him if there was one among them who could write. One of them answered that he could, and instantly stepped from the ranks. Buo. naparte accordingly dictated to him a letter which was written on a drum-head. Just as he had finished a ball struck the ground at his feet and covered him with dust, on which he cooly remarked that " it was a fortunate accident, as he want. ed some sand.” This sang froid so pleased the general that he promoted him on the spot.
Yesterday I saw the whole French army paraded. It was a most magnificent and imposing spectacle. The number op the field amounted to nearly twenty thousand. They were composed of full grown muscular veterans, though the countenances of many indicated extreme youth. Their appearance, especially that of the cavalry, was in the most eminent degree ferocious and martial. Their accoutrements differ es: sentially from those of the British troops. The heavy dragoons, or cuirassiers, wear helmets of brass, and breast-plates resembling the ancient coats of mail, which they differ from only by being much thicker, and musket proof. These equip ments are excessively burthensome, and when once dismounted, they are rendered helpless, but in a charge their shock is dreadful. I also recently witnessed another very interesting sight. Four thousand Spanish troops who had been prisoners to the French, were assembled to receive arms presented them by the English, previous to their embarkation for Catalonia.
I have been several times to the Italian Opera, or Teatro de San Carlos since I arrived in Lisbon. This is the only amusement worth attending in the city. It is a very elegant theatre. The exterior, which is of Dorick architecture, is exceedingly handsome. Within it is fitted up in a style similar to the Opera House in London. The centre box, which was the royal seat, since the entrance of the French has been taken possession of by Junot, as the representative of his master, and decorated accordingly with the tricoloured flag. Before it a curtain is now very appropriately suspended. I was present at the first opera that was acted subsequent to the new order of things, when the united flags of Great Britain, Portugal, and Spain, were put up in the place of the French standard. This was received most loyally by the brave Portuguese, who huzzaed and shouted very magnanimously. Their own flag being modestly stuck in the centre above the others. The orchestra is very excellent, and the vocal performers are said to be among the first in Europe. ' Catalani sung in this theatre for some years. It was at Lisbon that she married her blackguard husband, who was then a subaltern in the French service, and from hence she first visited London, The performances are twice a-week, of which Sunday is the most fashionable night: and the opera as well as all the other theatres are much more brilliantly attended then than on any other night in the week. The opera is about to be shut for want of encouragement. Young Vestris, and Angiolini, who are the principal dancers, are going to England. Owing to the distresses of the times, this place of amusement which is more expensive than the other theatres, is not well support. ed. Junot, while in power, contrived to effect a pretty general attendance. Finding that the house was but little frequented, and not being pleased when he was present to see the
boxes empty, he caused cards to be issued to the different families of gentry and nobility, requesting he might be favoured on such a night with their company at the opera. The hint was immediately taken, and very few thought proper to ne. glect the invitation; as, they not only felt pretty well assured that such a mark of disaffection would be remembered on the next contribution, but whether they attended or not, they were under the necessity of paying for their places. There are one or two other theatres for the performance of Portuguese plays, of which the only one that is tolerably decent is called Teatro do Salitre. This is a very shabby edifice compared to the opera house. It is ill constructed, very narrow, and inconvenient. Being cheaper and more agreeable to the taste of the people, it is usually well attended. Nothing can be more wretched than their plays, tragedies especially ; and as for the tragedians of the city, they are infinitely worse. I was present the other evening at the representation of a tragedy taken from the affecting history of Don Pedro and Ines de Castro. The story of these unfortunate lovers'.
"em cuya sorte “Formon duo anagrama, o amor e, a morte” is well known, and has, I believe, furnished a ground work to as many plays and poems in various languages, as any circumstance on record. Whether the tale is told in the simple words of the historian, or embellished by the melting touches, the exquisite poetry, and glowing language of the Lusiad, it takes strong hold of the feelings, but as it was represented by these hempen homespuns it afforded very tragical mirth. The performance was nearly on a par with the tedious brief scene of Pyramus and Thisbe, as enacted by the company of Messieurs Bottom and Quince. The part of Don Pedro, the hero of the play, was performed by the ugliest hound my eyes ever beheld. His features seemed fitted for no other stage than that under the management of Mr. Jack Ketch, and even this line of acting his appearance would disgrace. His dress was quite in character, nothing could be more appropriate. He wore a pair of Hessian boots, which had not, to judge by their colour, undergone the operation of brushing for the last half year, though to make amends for. this defect, which was perhaps only a minute attention to stage propriety, and intended to mark the perturbed state of the lover's mind, they were very prettily bedizened with gold