Irish Jesuit Province
In the North of Portugal Author(s): M. J. Carey Reviewed work(s): Source: The Irish Monthly, Vol. 44, No. 514 (Apr., 1916), pp. 227-234 Published by: Irish Jesuit Province Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20504588 . Accessed: 15/03/2012 06:07
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a simple kindly folk. the Stranger at the Gate was young. with the wonderful sapphire blue of the sky overhead. and here as in the time when the nation Biblical housed is welcomed.
. fertile plain and tranquil river.* The nearest railway station is
and even the dili than a day's journey away. do not come near us. and fed like a brother.
hardy mountaineers. of prism-hued valleys gleaming with glorious brilliancy in the strong white light of the sun. this is perhaps that it is quite out of the circuit of any of gences
Cook's excursions and another is the difficulty of reaching
it. Much has been written about the little country of Portugal: ite people. makes a series
of landscapes And so long these apart the beauty lovely from of which are shut is hardly inhabited out from surpassed by a in any race of
part of the world. Yet the seenery of bouldered mountain and rushing waterfall.
W ^ SE are out
of the way
up here in the
more Traz-os-Montes. Here in the the corn wears no muzzle. as much of the journey has to be made on the backs of
shaggy little horses who climb fearlessly the rugged and steep paths or ford torrential streams which after the rains rush down the slopes from the heights above. In the houses of the ' lavradors. but little
has been penned by any writer about this part of the king
dom that Affonso Heuriques carved with great masterly strokes out of the Spanish Peninsula. who have lived
it by their
mountains. that the traditions of their fathers have become
the ox that treads to them an unwritten code of laws.
highlands the world. monuments and scenery have been often described. for so it was written law of old. each member who farmers rich
*The Province which lies in the north-eastern corner of Portugal.' of the own their lands. Few people have ever heard One reason of of Laguia and fewer still have visited it.
The corn is cut down
by hand. aga-in to music in a minor key. the latter grow to a great height. at the end of her hard day's labour as if fatigue could not touch her. the top being The wheat are in June. she looked.228
work. sometimes harder. ask and answer
questions. for manual labour in con
nection with the tillage of the soil is held in high esteem
by all. they so well. The chief crop grown is maize. and the rest repeating them in chorus. for machine labour is almost unknown in Portugal. when their leaves are plucked
left to grow off one by one. While doing
so. a politeness which is delightful. or address bantering or ironical remarks to each other. from one side of a field to the other for hours together at a time. the words of which they chant now to a soft
and plaintive of a weird air. Agriculture is the work in which almost everyone is em ployed.
I noted particularly one young girl. Women and men work side by side in the fields. though wheat. and rye harvests taller still.
the musical conversation being interrupted o-nly by merry peals of laughter. An exquisite politeness characterizes the manners of the people. one generally singing
the words as a solo. because it is
by no means artificial. varying these occasionally with a sort of im provisation. The measure of the Portuguese working day is from sun On one summer evening at about eight rise to sunset.
Seizing one of the stacks of corn by the rope which bound
. Thus boys and girls will Oriental nature. Gourds and young cabbages are planted among the maize and in the winter when the grain has been garnered in. sing the old folk and which often songs have and ballads which a rare charm and they like sweetness
about them. but flows in a great measure from a
natural kindliness of feeling. and it is no uncom
has his or her appointed
mon thing to find the heir to a considerable estate guiding the plough the whole day long. rye and many kinds of beans are also largely cultivated. whose pretty face seemed to breathe forth light and joy. o'clock I was watching a party of peasants removing some
stacks of corn from one field to another at a higher level. the women quite as hard as the men. or pay compliments. which from time to time some particularly amusing repartee has evoked.
unlike those which are cultivated as bushes on the steep hillsides of a tract of country on the High Douro. then earthed up. Where streams are not abundant. Flax also or both is widely are provided. The farmers invite the neighbouring peasants to help them. and
from which the fine wine known as ' port' in Great Britalil
. With each turn these buckets dip into a well and as they come up again empty the water into little channels which carry it in all directions to irrigate the growing crops. as they pass from
village to village along the roads. Buckets are set about a foot apart on an endless chain which passes over a wheel. and even the poor old beggar women earn a few pence by drawing out hanks of flax thread for some over-busy farm-wife. During the husking of the corn which is a slow and careful business. Indeed every woman possesses a spindle. and completely hidden under her burden she ran nimbly and lightly up the slope to the higher field. and finally threshed. Food and wine and music of guitar
or mandoline. the water is sometimes brought for miles in an underground channel or along the top of a wall.
the neighbouring dis
they posss great
beauty. allowed to ramble Here they up pollarded trees. "How
much do you earn a day Deolinda ?" I asked her. are Vines trained and too are grown over trellises or
but not so largely as in the Minho. she swung the great bundle upon her back.
the farmers' wives
daughters spend the long winter evenings spinning and weaving it into linen for their clothes.IN
it. Another method of obtaining a water supply is by means of an old-fashioned water wheel worked by oxen. many a merry even ing is spent. As the maize ripens. and bend ing. Later on it is gradually thinned out. The maize which is not cut till Septemlber or October First it has to be hoed and gives a great deal of work. All the time it has to be most carefully watered. dried. the cobs have to be cut from the straw." she answered.
trict to the west. cultivated. This is generally done by irrigation. some of it being taken as food for cattle. and and the work is con and
tinued far into the night. "Three
vintens (pennies) and my food a ininha senhora. husked.
Tall. and during the summer the vines are sprayed with sulphur to hinder them from being attacked by a dreadful blight called -oidium. the pulp is left to ferment for some time. When the stalks and skins rise to the surface the liquor is run off into the huge vats in the cellars below. and trample steadily for hours." them. their hands placed on
each other's shoulders. everywhere. There is sunshine All seems redolent of joy. They sing some one of their folk-songs while thus working. Everyone takes of the new wine. tread them
sunshine.direction to help with the work. In March the ground is dug up. more or less during the winter. and up these the men run like cats to cut the great bunches of grapes from the vines. begins in autumn and continues. golden
see we golden
After the fruit has been sufficiently trodden. Men tread out the juice with their
'bare feet. of press yield them. the the glorious gay we must wine. The vintage is a delightful season. and the earth hoed into little mounds round the roots to protect them from the hot sun. and men and
. is wholly made. the music keeping time to the rhythm of their feet. tread wine. The vintage begins at the end of September. grapes.230
The pruning of the vine and Ireland. These they drop into large baskets Which the women hold ready to catch them. From the residue an 'aguardente' or brandy is distilled and the seeds are ground into flour which is used as pigs' food. They stand in a circle. yield the the them. singing and dancing aw they come. in the air and on the faces and in the hearts of the people. when they are relieved by a fresh relay. When the baskets are full some of the girls carry them away on their heads to the wine-presses-great granite tanks-into which the grapes are thrown. The following is a rather close rendering of one of these
"Oh We See
the Offspring must E:re we Now they press they grapes. gaunt ladders are propped against the tree trunks or the stone supports of the trellises. and all the weeds are cleared away. Bands of peasants arrive from far-away villages in every .
but she always most faithfully fulfilled the promises which Antonio made for her in order that he himself might procure relief from bodily incon venience. made for the grown careless
and the ' padre. Bento on her knees and make the tour of the -chapel on the summit seven times. Of course who I am are a
now writing particularly of the people of the North. the True monarchy.IN THE NORTH -childrengo about with
son juice. but one generally finds that
. I knew a cobbler shoemaker who rather often took more than was enough for him.' speaker) stand was last desperate there are a few who have
in the practice of their religion. there is really little or no drunkenness among them except occasionally at fair times or on a festival Jay. Maria was a rather infirm and large woman. I thank you. their hearts. This morning Narcisinha drank her little cup of wine with the rest of us. who
carried her weight uneasily. with
to those the Traz-os-Montes. more resolute in character. better-looking. and when suffering from the effects of a prolonged visit at the wine-shop would make promises to this or that Saint that his wife Maria should go barefoot on pilgrimage to his shrine. manlier. and thriftier and more
industrious. Though the Portuguese certainly like a glass of their -own good wine. "Very well indeed." was the proud answer. " And how a lady of a peasant
their clothes stained with the crim
asked to-day?" in her arms her
is the little Narciza woman who was holding
six months' old baby.
finer race altogether than those of the South. still on her knees. papers written to remind their partisans that their oratory
iB thrown away on ' Ze Povinho' (Jose the man of the
people) in the North. Rehgion lies deep in The people are truly Catholic. and it will take more than Affonso Costa and his followers with all their despotic and usurped power to
uproot a special it from where regard it has of so long lain. a minha senhora. and
The Republicans themselves know that they have to I have read an article in one of their reckon with this.
for he is the blind follower of the
It was here.
' cacique' (village that in 1911. that she should go up Monte St.
seeing so many of their priests and friends imprisoned as royalists or enemies of the new Republic. of St. of In this was shown in a the last year of the
monarchy there had been some question about taking away the common lands from the people and using their revenue& for some other purpose. The Republic was hardly formed
when the Senate passed a law for the confiscation of the
common lands. Some of them last for several dayn. and St. Peteir Feasts St. The people say it has deceived
them. Last year
. not among the laborious sons of the
soil. The mistress of a certain country house in the above-mentioned village toldme that her house
hold had been kept awake the whole of a summer night by
the shouting and vociferations of the villagers. Anthony. were coming to claim it for the government. are for localities renowned tho but different and Paul. It is among the young mechanics and shopmen that any appreciation of the Republic exists. of certain annual saints festivals are great institu
tions in Portugal.232
these negligent ones owe some petty post in officialdom to the powers whose arms reach out from Lisbon. were oppressed with fear of the government and accepted
its decrees in silence. they had congregated near the house on the slopes of a mountain which was common ground in order to defend it from the soldiers who. and I have heard on occasion peasants singing in their improvised songs that the King will come to his own
again The and Costa be heard of no more. and not a dissentient murmur was heard from one of these same villagers. They are looked upon partly as occasions for rendering good
Such are the to the soul and partly as times of pleasure. The awe which the Republic inspired at its commence
ment is fast melting away. they had wrongly heard. in the Cathedral. High Mass spectacular part of the day's programme begins. After Pontifical the Osraga. John the Baptist. with which splendour they celebrate John draws crowds each year tor So the Festa of St. village near Cabeceiras An instance de Basto. 1910 the people. some special Feast. And I think I ought to point out here that 'Repub
licano' in Portuguese almost invariably carries with it the After the Revolution of secondary meaning of Atheist.
and the naming of the child were acted. and then the twelve great oxen began again to move slowly
forward. In the market place and at the corners of the principal streets the vehicle was stopped and a sort of Miracle Play was performed on the platform at the top. and last she asked him to forego he would by no means
do so. with his sceptre. most sedate. on which winged cherub heads were leaning their chins. The roof was arranged as a stage to which the actors ascended from the body of the cart by means of a ladder. His daughter who ismarried to one of the more important shopkeepers of the town has become
rather year ashamed of this public it. It was very amusing to note how punctiliouslv careful the old man was that each of his followers should take up his proper position in the group they formed about him preparatory to his executing his dance. has danced his historic danQa of St. Joao Pereira. a dear little curly headed fellow of about three years. and then St. John for the greater number
of the years of his life. The crowd immediately rushed forward to kiss his feet. John the Baptist himself.IN
a small play-house on wheels was drawn through the streets by twelve magnificent oxen. the slowest. appeared on a small platform in front of the lower part of the play-house. he pushed his ardent clients from him. and so presented a quite gorgeous royal personage. He motioned them one after another. The theme dealt with the birth of The apparition of the angel to St. John the Baptist. The walls of this little theatre were draped in muslin to resemble clouds. King David surrounded by a retinue of courtiers had danced a most solemn and stately measure. He submitted to this act of devotion for some time. Eliza beth. to move an inch or two. Zachary in the Temple. with feet and hands. but growing tired of it at length.
A very quaint performance had taken place in the street a little while before the coming of the car. an old man with
snow white each year on hair the Feast anid beard. this way or that. When all were placed to his satisfaction he began his dan9a. act But of her father. the visit of Our Lady to St. indeed he spent a larger sum than usual on his courtly apparel.
In the evening the statues of Our Blessed Lord and St John. with the electric light illuminating -specially laid on for the occasion-brilliantly the river and its banks. and perhaps on some future occasion. CARZY. and followed by many thousands of the people.234
. the ceremony of Our Lord's Baptism took place.
Soon 'after groups of dancers began to form round one or
another guitarist or violinist and wonderfully picturesque groups they made. While writing of this Festa. There. these dancers. were carried down to the river. and
as the song and the dance and the music will continue til
late into the night. while rockets burst in the air and great bon fires blazed on all the heights around.' the girls in their gay costumes in which vivid reds and blues and greens pre dominated flashing kaleidoscope-wise among the more soberly clad youths. I bid them in their own tongue Adeus. the picture of these ardent sons and daughters of the South in their merrymaking-time is clearly visible to my mind.
M J. 'Vivas' for 'O Nosso Senhor Jesus Christo' and for their dear Sao Joao. accompanied by bands of music. on to the head Then the crowd shouted their of Our Blessed Lord. Oriental sort of dance that ever I am sur?f was footed by Jewish monarch or Portuguese peasant. I may tell the reader of other circumstances in their simple. kindly and picturesque lives. the water being made to rise by some invisibleA mechanical process so as to flow from the beautifully chased and jewelled golden cup held by St. as they moved up and down and wheeled in the gay 'Vira' or swayed their bodies and limbs in the slower 'Ver-de-Gaio. John.