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There was, at first, an undulating tremble of
two minutes, which many laughing feasting
people thought was a wagon rumbling
underneath the windows. Then another in a
few minutes more, worse and unmistakable;
so that houses were split and rent, and a dust
arose that hid the sun. Then another interval
of dreadful silence, and the city fell to pieces
like a card-house: palace, hut, and cabin;
church, casino, gambling-house, and thieves'
kitchen, tumbled in together, amid a dusty
fog as of an eclipse. Through all the dreadful
apocalyptic darkness, arose groans, screams,
and shrieks of the dying and the immured.
An eye-witness, in a ship lying in the Tagus,
said he saw the whole city suddenly heave
like a wave, and then disappear.

I have met with travellers who have felt
earthquakes at sea, and have seen them on
land, and I have clear notions now about the
horizontal and the upward motion, and I find
out that it was neither the one nor the other
that destroyed Lisbon; but a sort of clash and
conflict of the two, as if two cross veins of
earthquake had met and disagreed. I am
told that it is one of the most terrible things
in the world to see an earthquake come up a
Mexican valleylike an advancing wave
shaking trees, and making houses and hills
nod to each other. It brings on a sort of sickness.
If it is dangerous and repeated, as in
Lima and the Caraccas, its tendency is to
demoralise society; to drive men to reckless
pleasure and crime, as in Lisbon, at the time
of which I speak: when great fires swept
through the city, and when the smoking
ruins were for fifteen days haunted by bands
of robbers, till the stern Pombal hung three
hundred of them, and so stanched the moral

That night, looking from the Braganca
window at the weltering bay which seemed
turned to silver, over which highway I could
see away to Belem, the guarded mouth of
the Tagus; I beheld the tranquil terraced
roofs below, quiet in the moonlight; for
the wilful Mohammedan moon was in her
crescent, and I could almost imagine myself
in the old Moorish city. As I looked, I fell
into a reverie in my chair in the Braganca
balcony. Napier's Peninsular War dropping
from my hand, I imagined myself, that November
morning, on that safe roof-top watching
the tranquil city. Suddenly, the houses all
around me began to roll and tremble like a
stormy sea. Through an eclipse dimness I saw
the buildings round my feet and far away on
every side, gape and split; the floors fell with
the shake of cannons. The groans and cries
of a great battle were round me. I could
hear the sea dashing on the quays, and rising
to swallow what the earthquake had left.
Through the air, dark with falling walls and
beams, amid showers of stones red with
the billows of fire from sudden conflagrations,
I saw the cloudy streets strewn with
the dead and dying; screaming crowds,
running thickly, hither and thither, like sheep
when the doors of the red slaughter-house
are closed.

Suddenly, a voice in my ears cries in bad
Portuguese: "I thought you rang for coffee,

It was the waiter. I was saved!


THE greatest weakness that poor aunt
had, was a passion for adoption, and irregular
servants. To begin, she adopted me
her niece. Our boy, who was page and
waiter at table, was a transported burglar's
orphan. Our two maid-servants were
workhouse castaways. Our late coachman and
general man-servant was a ticket-of-leave
holder, who did not turn out well; and, at
last, we adopted in his place a gipsy king.
Auntor Miss Granite, as I ought to call
herwas a maiden lady between fifty and
sixty, possessed of considerable property,
great strength of character, and unflinching
moral courage. This was her very sensible,
though somewhat eccentric idea of practical
charity. Perhaps she was right; for, as a
whole, her system worked well. She rose
superior to the opinion of her neighbours,
although we lived in a small, dull village,
about fifteen miles on the highroad from
London to Dover; and our villa, being next
door to the rural station-house, the majesty
of the law, if required, could have been turned
on at any moment.

The ticket-of-leave man had a brother in
the village; who, in my opinion, was no better
than the convict, only he had never been
found out; and this brother, feeling ashamed
of his relative's presence, was always urging
him privately to go to Australia. This
unceasing family pressure at last had its effect;
and, one night, he disappeared, taking enough
of Miss Granite's loose cash with him to
defray the cost of his passage.

It was getting late in the autumn; the
weather was cold and chilly; the trees were
standing under bare branches; the soil round
the town was of a clayey nature; there had
been much rain for many weeks, and the
mists were damp and dispiriting. About
the middle of a very dismal day at this
period, a dirty, ragged man, of the tramp
species, was observed to walk to and fro for
some little time, in the hope of attracting
the attention of the inmates; but, as
no one went to the gate, he at last
ventured to ring the bell. Miss Granite was
looking through the drawing-room window,
and at once, made amends for her neglect,
by ordering the unpromising stranger to be
invited in. Although he had looked dirty,
unprepossessing, and half-wild outside the
house, when he entered our presence his
appearance was infinitely worse. His clothes
were patched with rags, like a bed-quilt,
and the patches were again re-patched with