JOSEPH CRABTREE AND THE CALIPH OF FONTHILL
Among the unexplored areas in our poet’s life, the year 1787 attracted my attention. The year 1787, when Crabtree, then in Naples, was entrusted with a mission to Portugal. But before I develop my main line of research, allow me to quote to you from two texts written by British travellers to Portugal, as this will enlighten you on the degree of reciprocal understanding between the natives of our two countries. Wrote James Bruce in his still unpublished ‘Journal’, when in 1757 he visited Portugal with the professed object of being present at the vintage of the year:
There are many particular customs in Portugal, all of which may be known by this rule, that whatever is done in the rest of the world in one way, is done in Portugal by the contrary, even to the rocking of the cradle, which, I believe, in all the rest of the world is from side to side, but in Portugal from head to foot. I fancy it is owing to this early contrariety that their brains work so different a manner all their lives after.