Tuesday, 17 February 2009
The Gentleman's Magazine, Sept. 1789
" ... in Christmas holidays I was at Cintra, which is about twenty miles from Lisbon, where we found the air wonderfully mild and pleasant- We dined in the open air, and had some delightful walks about the rock. Cintra is deservedly famous for its temperature, being no less cool in summer than warm in winter. One may indeed almost pronounce they have neither summer nor winter there, but a delightful middle kind of season, that is free from the inconveniences of both, and is constantly both and neither. It is the most unaccountably place I ever saw or heard of, and hardly seems subject to the laws of Nature ; for, besides its unseasonable pleasantness at all times of the year, though it is the highest ground I ever trod, it is constantly overflowed with water, in which respect, though it may fall-in with the system of Mr. Halley, it seems to run counter to the common course of Nature. It is the most fertile and the most barren, the most frightful and the most lovely place I ever beheld. The exquisite sweetness of the lower part of the hills is strongly contrasted by the craggy appearance of the summits, where the rain has washed away the mould from between the rocks, and left them piled upon one another in a frightful manner.
The foxes and the wolves, that inhabited the numerous clefts and caverns in these eminences, are in one place dislodged by a sett of inhabitants, who, when religion is out of the question, have the advantage of the wild beasts in point of humanity ; I mean a sett of friars, who have consecrated the evacuated dens, and taken up their abode in them. We dined with them, and they treated us very hospitably, just without the gate of their unbuilt and invisible convent.
They tell me that Cintra is indefinitely more pleasant in the summer than in the winter ; but it is very difficult to conceive how that is possible. The grass affords a verdure in winter, which, I am apt to think, the summer heat must destroy. The hills abound with ever-greens, particularly cork-trees ; and the orange groves, when I saw them, were loaded with fruit, and made a fine appearance.
Letter written "soon after the earthquake" by Rev. Mr. W. Allen to Mr. Thickness, Master of St.Paul's School