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The air of this celebrated country is well known for its salutary influence on convalescents. It is indeed friendly to the healthful and the infirm, and it is impossible to convey an adequate idea of the invigorating breezes prevalent here, which are so remarkably medicinal in consumptive and other debilitating diseases; and which prevent Lisbon from being depopulated by the ravages of epidemical distempers.
The soil of Portugal is in general not so fertile as Spain, though the country around Lisbon, St. Ubes, Oporto, &c. may vie with its most fertile parts. Partly owing to the sterility of the soil, and partly for want of a true stimulus to industry, in the encouragement of agricultural pursuits, Portugal is often very deficient in the substantial article of bread-corn; this scarcity is in some measure provided against by public granaries."
Their fruits are excellent, abundant, and various; and their vineyards are equal to any in the world; in this respect their in
dustry is worthy of commendation, and of imitation, by those countries whose climate and soil are congenial to the vine. The wine produced by those delicious grapes, when genuine, and taken in moderation, is justly deemed a medicine in many complaints.
The whole length of Lisbon, including its suburbs, is about two miles and a half; the breadth in and near the city about a mile; the other parts not so much. Except a few handsome streets in the city and its vicinity, it is irregularly, and in many parts, to appearance, insecurely built. The abrupt precipices, caused by the tremendous earthquakes which has often convulsed this city and its neighbourhood, in many parts form the foundation of spacious houses; the view from those windows next the chasms, strike a stranger with terror, but custom induces the inhabitants to view it, too often, with thoughtless indifference.
The inhabitants are numerous, but at present, and indeed for many years past,
have lost that enterprizing spirit in commerce, discovery, and navigation, which so remarkably distinguished their ancestors, and rendered them so conspicuous in the annals of nations, about three or four hundred years ago. Luxury, pride, and indolence, those inseparable banes, excited by an influx of wealth from the new world, soon produced that degeneracy of character, which too much mark the Portuguese at the present day :-from hence has frequently originated the decline and fall of flourishing and powerful states. When man loses sight of what he is, and how he stands connected with his fellow-menwhen selfishness, pride, and ignorance, subjugates and even extirpates those social affections, which endear man to man, so that if self is exalted and flattered, he cares. not who falls; the inevitable consequence must be, a death-blow to all the tender ties. of life, and unless timely prevented, mustterminate in general ruin.
The multiplicity of images of the Virgin, and of departed saints, meet the eye in
every part of the city; and the devotion paid them is strange and astonishing; waxtapers accompanying many of the superior sort, and are kept constantly burning; and crosses are plentifully placed in the most conspicuous situations; processions abound too, more calculated to captivate the senses than impress the heart. The unsuspecting stranger is frequently accosted by priests as well as beggars, imploring charity in the name of the Holy Virgin; and many of those mendicants, as if to add force to their solicitations, will enumerate a long list of their favourite saints. Why is this mendicity grown into a system? Because true religion and industry is wanting.
The Roman Catholic is the only religion all over Portugal, and its inhabitants are generally deeply immured in its superstitions; though blessed be God, the darkness is not so thick as formerly. The horrid tribunal of the Inquisition has lost much of its power.
The Portuguese in general seem to possess
a large share of ostentation, affecting all that imaginary greatness and supercilious disdain so congenial to proud nature; deceit and revenge, in their various and dreadful forms, still stalk too often with impunity; yet it is pleasing to observe and reflect, that these evils also are very much decreased of late years, and openness and sincerity of conduct prevail more and more.
The charge of vanity is mostly applicable to the higher and middling ranks; for among the peasantry and fishermen, the author has with pleasure observed, that honesty, candour, and simplicity, which always command regard; though with respect to many of the lower order, as to ceremony, it is common to see as much ridiculous or unmeaning bowing and scraping, as is practised between fops in general.
The government is vested in the Prince Regent, who may be considered an arbitrary prince, though, to his honour it appears, he has not exerted his power in that unjust manner which many of his predecessors