The Bible in Spain, Or, the Journeys, Adventures, and Imprisonments of An Englishman: In An Attempt to Circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula

By George Borrow | Go to book overview

tion in which he pointed, and beheld a town perched on the top of a lofty hill. On the other side of a deep valley towards the left rose another hill, much higher, on the top of which is the celebrated fort of Elvas, believed to be the strongest place in Portugal. Through the opening between the fort and the town, but in the background and far in Spain, I discerned the misty sides and cloudy head of a stately mountain, which I afterwards learned was Albuquerque, one of the loftiest of Estremadura.

We now got into a cultivated country, and following the road, which wound amongst hedgerows, we arrived at a place where the ground began gradually to shelve down. Here, on the right, was the commencement of an aqueduct by means of which the town on the opposite hill was supplied; it was at this point scarcely two feet in altitude, but, as we descended, it became higher and higher, and its proportions more colossal. Near the bottom of the valley it took a turn to the left, bestriding the road with one of its arches. I looked up, after passing under it; the water must have been flowing near a hundred feet above my head, and I was filled with wonder at the immensity of the structure which conveyed it. There was, however, one feature which was no slight drawback to its pretensions to grandeur and magnificence; the water was supported not by gigantic single arches, like those of the aqueduct of Lisbon, which stalk over the valley like legs of Titans, but by three layers of arches, which, like three distinct aqueducts, rise above each other. The expense and labour necessary for the erection of such a structure must have been enormous; and, when we reflect with what comparative ease modern art would confer the same advantage, we cannot help congratulating ourselves that we live in times when it is not necessary to exhaust the wealth of a province to supply a town on a hill with one of the first necessaries of existence.


CHAPTER VIII.

Elvas--Extraordinary Longevity--The English Nation--Portuguese Ingratitude--Illiberality--Fortifications--Spanish Beggar--Badajoz--The Custom House.

ARRIVED at the gate of Elvas, an officer came out of a kind of guardhouse, and, having asked me some questions, despatched a soldier with me to the police office, that my passport might be viséed, as upon the frontier they are much more particular with respect to passports than in other parts. This matter having been settled, I entered an hostelry near the same gate, which had been recommended to me by my host at Vendas Novas, and which was kept by a person of the name of Joze Rosado. It was the best in the town, though, for convenience and accommodation, inferior to a hedge alehouse in England. The cold still pursued me, and I was glad to take refuge in an inner

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