Letters of George Borrow to Bible Society HTML version

Letter 30: 10th January, 1836
To the Rev. Andrew Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Feb. 29th, 1836)
THE night had closed in before we reached Evora, and having taken leave of my
friends, who kindly requested me to consider their house my home, myself and
my little party proceeded to the Largo de San Francisco, where was a hostelry,
which the muleteer informed me was the best in the town. We rode into the
kitchen, at the extreme end of which was the stable, as is customary in Portugal.
The house was kept by an aged gypsy-like female and her daughter, a fine
blooming girl about eighteen years of age. The house was large; in the upper
story was a very long room, like a granary, extending nearly the whole length of
the house; the further end was partitioned off, and formed a tolerably comfortable
chamber, but rather cold, the floor being of tiles, as was that of the large room in
which the muleteers were accustomed to sleep on the furniture of their mules.
Having supped I went to bed, and after having offered up my devotions to Him
who had protected me through a dangerous journey, I slept soundly till the
Evora is a walled town, but not regularly fortified, and could not sustain a siege of
a day. It has five gates; before that to the south-west is the principal promenade
of the inhabitants; the fair on St. John's Day is likewise held there. The houses
are mostly very ancient; many of them are unoccupied. It contains about five
thousand inhabitants, though twice that number would be by no means
disproportionate to its size. The two principal edifices are the See or Bishop's
Palace, and the Convent of San Francisco, opposite to which I had taken up my
abode. A large barrack for cavalry stands on the right-hand side on entering the
south-west gate. The adjacent country is uninteresting; but to the south-east, at
the distance of six leagues, is to be seen a range of blue hills, the highest of
which is called Serra Dorso. It is picturesquely beautiful, and contains within its
recesses wolves and wild boars in numbers. About a league and a half on the
other side of this hill is Estremoz.
I passed the day succeeding my arrival principally in examining the town and its
environs, and as I strolled about I entered into conversation with various people
that I met. Several of these were of the middle classes, shopkeepers and
professional men; they were all Constitutionalists, or pretended to be so, but had
very little to say, except a few commonplace remarks on the way of living of the
friars, their hypocrisy and laziness. I endeavoured to obtain some information
respecting the state of instruction at Evora, and from their replies was led to