Joseph-Barthélemy-François Carrère’s Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796 (1797) in English Translation

By Maria Zulmira Castanheira (FCSH, Universidade Nova de Lisboa / CETAPS)

Abstract & Keywords

Several influential foreign accounts of Portugal had been written by the end of the eighteenth century, mainly by French and British travellers such as Dumouriez, Dalrymple, Costigan (alias James Ferrier) and Southey. While most of those travelogues were not translated into Portuguese in subsequent years, or even centuries, some of them were soon translated into French, English and German, thus familiarising the wider European reading public with the characteristics of Portuguese people and society as seen by their authors, and playing an important part in shaping Portugal’s image within Europe. This article traces the history of one of these books, Joseph-Barthélemy-François Carrère’s Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796 [A Picture of Lisbon, in 1796], published in London in 1809, at a time when British soldiers were fighting Napoleonic troops on Portuguese soil. This article examines the alterations to the source text, particularly the omissions, which were clearly made for political reasons and are therefore indicative of the kind of extra-linguistic factors that may be involved in the translation process as intercultural transfer.

Keywords: travel writing translation, Joseph-Barthélemy-François Carrère, Portugal, France

©inTRAlinea & Maria Zulmira Castanheira (2013).
"Joseph-Barthélemy-François Carrère’s Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796 (1797) in English Translation"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: Translating 18th and 19th Century European Travel Writing
Edited by: Susan Pickford & Alison E. Martin
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1. Introduction

The eighteenth century, especially after the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, saw the publication of numerous travel accounts on Portugal which were to prove extremely influential and came to be viewed as authoritative statements on the subject. For the most part these narratives, in the main written by British and French travellers such as Charles François Dumouriez (1739-1823),[1] William Dalrymple (1736-1807),[2] Arthur William Costigan (the pseudonym of the Scottish officer James Ferrier, born in St Andrews in 1734),[3] Richard Twiss (1747-1821),[4] James Murphy (1760-1814)[5] and Robert Southey (1774-1843),[6] were not translated into Portuguese in the years after their initial publication, nor in the centuries that followed. In contrast to this, French, English and German translations of some of these were speedily produced, making their respective reading publics familiar with the characteristics of Portuguese regions, people and society as seen by the authors concerned and thus playing an important role in building the image of Portugal in European eyes.

One such work was Joseph-Barthélemy-François Carrère’s Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796; suivi de lettres écrites de Portugal sur l’état ancien et actuel de ce royaume [A Picture of Lisbon, in 1796; Followed by Letters Written from Portugal on the Former and Present State of this Kingdom], first published in Paris in 1797 by Hendrick Jansen (1741-1812). A second edition appeared in 1798, again in Paris, published by Jean-François-Pierre Deterville (1766-1842). There is no change to the text or to the typographical composition in the second edition, just a change of title page: Voyage en Portugal, et Particulièrement à Lisbonne, ou Tableau Moral, Civil, Politique, Physique et Religieux de cette Capitale, etc. etc.; suivi de plusieurs Lettres sur l’état ancien et actuel de ce Royaume [Travels to Portugal and Particularly Lisbon, or a Description of the Moral, Civil, Political, Physical and Religious Conditions in this Capital, etc. etc.; Followed by Several Letters on the Former and Present State of this Kingdom].[7] Through translation, books travel beyond the geographical and cultural frontiers in which they saw the light of day, and the Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796 crossed the English Channel the following decade. Twelve years later, when British troops were in Portugal fighting the Napoleonic armies which had invaded the territory of England’s old ally, the English translation was published: A Picture of Lisbon; Taken on the Spot: Being a Description, Moral, Civil, Political, Physical, and Religious, of that Capital; with Sketches of the Government, Character, and Manners of the Portuguese in General (London: Henry Colburn, 1809).

This article will focus on the French original and the 1808 English translation cited, taking up matters of a contextual and textual nature. It will examine the context in which Carrère’s account was produced and the context in which the English translation of his work was produced and received, while examining the most significant changes it underwent in this transfer process. Analysing this transposition from one language and culture to another will introduce issues related to re-writing, strategies of domestication and the invisibility of the translator. In this particular case, such invisibility gives the translator the power and freedom to efface the French origin of the original text, appropriating and manipulating it with a view to creating a fluent target text which seeks to mask the fact that it is a translation.

2. Unveiling the French Author’s Identity

The ‘Avis de l’Éditeur’ [Editor’s Note] included in the first edition of the Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796 (and reprinted in the second edition) justifies the publication of the book on the grounds that, until recently, there had been no French bibliography about Portugal and that the sole two recent works were not as complete as the one now being published:

Il a paru depuis peu deux ouvrages sur le Portugal, qui méritent certainement l’attention du lecteur, d’autant plus que jusqu’à présent nous n’avions absolument rien qui put [sic] nous donner quelqu’idée de ce royaume.[8] L’un de ces ouvrages a paru à Hambourg en un volume in-4º, sous le titre d’Etat présent du royaume de Portugal. On l’attribue à M. Dumouriez. L’autre est le Voyage en Portugal, par Murphy, dont on a donné depuis peu une traduction françoise, à Paris, en deux volumes in-8º, avec figures. Ces deux ouvrages, quoique bons en leur genre, ne présentent cependant qu’une esquisse peu satisfaisante des moeurs des Portuguais et de la ville de Lisbonne. Cela nous a engagé à publier celui que nous offrons aujourd’hui au public, et qui, selon nous, ne laisse rien à désirer à cet égard. Nous avons cru bien faire de prendre dans l’ouvrage de M. Dumouriez quelques notes sur des objets dont il y est question; d’autant plus que cet ouvrage est jusqu’à présent peu connu en France (Carrère 1797: 5-6).
[Two works on Portugal have recently appeared which certainly deserve the reader’s attention, all the more so as until now we had absolutely nothing which could give us any idea as to this kingdom. One of these works was published in Hamburg in a quarto volume, with the title Etat présent du royaume de Portugal. It is attributed to Mr. Dumouriez. The other is Voyage en Portugal, by Murphy, translated into French shortly thereafter and published in Paris in two octavo volumes, with illustrations. These two works, although good in their own way, do not, however, go beyond presenting an unsatisfactory sketch of Portuguese mores and of the city of Lisbon. This has led us to publish what we now offer the reading public which, in our view, leaves nothing to be desired in this regard. We believe we have acted fittingly in taking certain notes from M. Dumouriez’s work on some of the objects contained therein; all the more so as this work is currently little known in France.][9]

This passage highlights the debt owed to Dumouriez and provides evidence of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century travel writers’ tendency to gather information from previously published narratives about the countries on which they were writing, or to underline their statements and points of view by quoting texts published by reputed and allegedly reliable travellers.

Published anonymously, the Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796 — a particularly disparaging and satirical view of Lisbon — joined other foreign accounts in reinforcing the highly negative image of Portugal that prevailed in the collective European imagination and which cast Portugal as a land of backwardness, ignorance, superstition, poverty and despotism. The text further criticised the nefarious power of the Roman Catholic Church and the ineffectiveness of the justice system, and highlighted the corruption, dissolute morals and lack of hygiene of the population. The Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796 was later attributed to the French doctor Joseph-Barthélemy-François Carrère, who was born in Perpignan, France, on 24 August 1740 and died in Barcelona, Spain, on 20 December 1802. He graduated in medicine at Montpellier in 1759 and three years later had already become professor of anatomy and surgery at the University of Perpignan, where he was also head of the Natural History department. In 1773 the king appointed him inspector-general of the mineral waters of the Roussillon province and of the county of Foix. Moving to Paris the following year, he became the royal censor in June 1775 and Médecin du Garde-Meuble de la Couronne in April 1776. He was appointed associate of the Société Royale de Médecine de Paris in 1779; from 1780, at the request of the Société, he resumed and completed his wide-ranging research on all the mineral waters of the kingdom, a task he had begun many years before. Later he would also become consultant doctor to Louis XVI and first doctor to Louis XVIII during the latter’s exile. Carrère’s final years were spent in Portugal and Spain, where he became doctor of the chamber to Charles IV of Spain and collected a great deal of material on Spain which Alexandre de Laborde (1773-1842) was later to use in his Itinéraire descriptif de l’Espagne et tableau élémentaire des différents branches de l’administration et de l’industrie de ce royaume [Descriptive Itinerary of Spain and Basic Overview of the Different Branches of Administration and Industry in this Kingdom] (1808).[10]

None of the sources consulted in gathering biographical data on Carrère[11] indicate when and why he travelled to Portugal, and the foreword which the author had inserted in his book does not clarify these matters. It does, however, signal that the French doctor was forced to seek refuge in Portugal for a long period of time,[12] and that he risked his life in recording his impressions for later publication:

Des circonstances m’ont forcé à y aborder et à y prolonger mon séjour pendant assez long-tems. J’ai vu, j’ai observé; j’ai gardé le silence. La forme actuelle du gouvernement de cette petite contrée m’imposoit les précautions les plus réfléchies et la réserve la plus parfaite. J’eusse été perdu, si on eut pu soupçonner que j’observois: mes notes m’eussent été enlevées; ma personne, chargée de fers, eut été ensevelie dans des cachots: je n’eusse jamais revu la lumière; mes observations eussent été perdues, et j’aurois péri moi-même de chagrin, de douleur, de désespoir et de misère (Carrère 1797: 8).
[Circumstances forced me to go ashore there and to prolong my sojourn for some considerable time. I looked, I observed; I remained silent. The present form of government of this small country imposed on me the most considered precautions and the most perfect reserve. I would have been lost, had I been suspected of observing: my notes would have been seized; my person, clapped in irons, would have been entombed in a dungeon: I would never again have seen the light of day; my observations would have been lost, and I myself would have perished from grief, pain, despair and misery.]

Carrère also writes that his life in Lisbon was beset by difficulties, living as he was clandestinely, in constant terror that he would be found by the agents of Pina Manique (1733-1805), Inspector-General of the Portuguese police, who was determined to repress ideas coming from revolutionary France and to keep every French individual who entered Portugal under close surveillance:

Je ne me suis dérobé aux recherches avides et soutenues de la foule d’espions dont Lisbonne est infecté, qu’en jouant le rôle d’un homme passif, indifférent, insouciant, sans talens, sans lumières, hors d’état de rien connoître et de rien apprécier: on m’a regardé comme un homme três-ordinnaire [sic]: ma nullité reconnue a été mon salut. […] Combien de fois un bruit léger, entendu pendant la nuit, ne m’a-t-il point jeté dans des frayeurs mortelles! […] Ma situation a été digne de pitié pendant six mois (Carrère 1797: 9-10).
[I only succeeded in escaping the avid and unrelenting searches of the crowd of spies with which Lisbon is infested by playing the role of a passive, indifferent, carefree man, without talent, without enlightenment, incapable of knowing or judging anything: I was seen as a very ordinary man: my acknowledged insignificance was what saved me. […] How many times did a slight sound, heard in the night, plunge me into mortal fear! […] For six months, my situation was pitiable.]

The entry on Carrère in the Dictionnaire Historique de la Médecine Ancienne et Moderne [Historical Dictionary of Ancient and Modern Medecine], however, explains that ‘les événements de la révolution ayant forcé Carrère à s’expatrier, il passa en Espagne, òu il habita pendant quelques années’ [‘the events of the revolution having forced Carrère to leave his country, he moved to Spain, where he lived for some years’],[13] and French police records for 1797 contain a reference to ‘Joseph-Barthélemy-François Carrère, professeur de médecine à l'université de Perpignan, parti pour l'Espagne en 1789, ayant servi dans l'armée des Princes, retiré à Venise’ [‘Joseph-Barthélemy-François Carrère, professor of medicine at the University of Perpignan, departed for Spain in 1789, from where, after having served in the Princes’ army, he retired to Venice’].[14] This establishes precisely when the author of Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796 arrived in the Iberian peninsula, contradicting the hypothesis put forward by Castelo Branco Chaves — the author of the first and only complete translation of Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796 into Portuguese, published in 1989[15] — according to which Carrère emigrated to Spain before the Revolution or during the Reign of Terror (1793-94). It does not, however, altogether dismiss the possibility raised in the Translator’s Preface that Carrère sought refuge in Portugal after the Treaty of Basel (signed on 22 July 1795), after which he lived for several months in Lisbon until he was expelled from the country and sent to Genoa.[16]        

The contents of the Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796 makes no mention of any relations between the author and the French colony in Lisbon, or other émigrés. Castelo Branco Chaves (1984) finds it strange that, Carrère being a doctor, he did not put his qualifications to use to earn a living and instead hid himself away in a garret, concealed behind the mask of a poor, unlettered man; he further asks how Carrère obtained the wide-ranging political, religious and social information on Lisbon displayed in his book, having lived in disguise in the lowliest area of Lisbon. Did he have the assistance of family members? Or was he a freemason (Carrère refers to the Supreme Being on several occasions), with his fellow masons assisting him? It seems unlikely that this could be ascertained, but the possibility remains intriguing.

3. A Picture of Lisbon; Taken on the Spot: The English Translation of Carrère’s Account and its Reception

Out of these circumstances, shrouded as they are in mystery, came the Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796, a bitter, rancorous, satirical work, which presents Portugal as a sinister country, with a despotic government, a corrupt bureaucracy, and an ignorant and despicable population. It is likely that such a hostile portrayal was known to some of the French officers in the Napoleonic army which invaded Portugal in 1807, 1809 and 1810, giving them a highly negative vision of the Portuguese nation and reinforcing any prejudices against the Portuguese they might already have nurtured.

Twelve years after the first French edition and in the midst of the Peninsular war, an English translation of Carrère’s account was published in 1809. It appeared at a time when thousands of British soldiers were engaged in a bloody war against Napoleon’s army on Portuguese soil and the British felt great interest in, and curiosity about, its partner in the old alliance. Published in London by Henry Colburn (1784?/85?-1855) and titled A Picture of Lisbon; Taken on the Spot: Being a Description, Moral, Civil, Political, Physical, and Religious, of that Capital; with Sketches of the Government, Character, and Manners of the Portuguese in General, it does not identify the author of the work but mentions that it was written ‘By a gentleman many years resident at Lisbon’, in an obvious attempt to gain the reader’s trust. Nor is mention made of the name of the translator; indeed there is nothing to show that this was a translation, no paratextual discourse to supply an explanation for the decision to translate the French account into English. The publisher’s foreword, as well as the foreword to the original, were omitted, thus preventing British readers from understanding that they were dealing with the translation of a work written by a native of that same France with which Britain was then at war.

It should be noted that Henry Colburn, responsible for publishing the English translation of Carrère’s account, was a major publisher of his time. Known for his great business acumen and commercial shrewdness, he published the work of renowned novelists of his day, as well as a great deal of travel literature dealing with the most varied parts of the world, both in the original and in translation, taking advantage of the fact that this was one of the most popular genres of the publishing market of the time, perhaps the most important after the novel.[17] Portugal, like Spain, was in the public eye, and great was the need for supposedly reliable information about the Iberian peninsula, ‘taken on the spot’, such as that provided by eye-witnesses such as Carrère and Christian Augustus Fischer (1771-1829), the most prolific disseminator of things Spanish within the late eighteenth century German-speaking world, who at this time also saw the publication of two of his books in London in English translation, namely A Picture of Madrid: Taken on the Spot (1808)[18] and A Picture of Valencia, Taken on the Spot (1808).[19]  Given the title’s similarity with these two publications dating from the same year, the first from an unidentified publisher and the second from J. Mawman, a case may even be made for A Picture of Lisbon; Taken on the Spot having appeared in a context of rivalry between several publishing houses. Curiously, Frederic Schoberl (1775-1853) – the prolific journalist, translator, writer and illustrator who appears as the translator of A Picture of Valencia, Taken on the Spot – was to found The New Monthly Magazine with Henry Colburn in 1814. It may even have been Schoberl himself who wrote the English translation of Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796.

Also omitted from the English translation were the Lettres écrites de Portugal, sur l’état ancien et actuel de ce royaume. Traduites de l’anglois [Letters Written from Portugal, On the Former and Present State of this Kingdom. Translated from the English] and the Portrait Historique du Marquis de Pombal [Historical Portrait of the Marquis of Pombal] which were appended to Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796. The French publisher had justified their inclusion by means of a notice in which he argued that it was in the public interest to reprint the French translation of the letters concerned – by then out of print – and to divulge certain facts pertaining to the Marquis of Pombal,[20] a figure ‘dont le ministère forme une époque glorieuse et mémorable dans les fastes du royaume de Portugal’ [‘whose ministry represents a glorious and memorable epoch in the annals of the kingdom of Portugal’] (Carrère 1797: 338). In fact, it was Hendrick Jansen himself who had translated and published these letters lauding the Pombaline government in 1780.[21] Although the original English text had been previously published anonymously in London in 1777 as Letters from Portugal, On the Late and Present State of that Kingdom,[22]  they were unavailable in Britain by 1808 as there never was a reprint.

The date printed on the frontispiece of the English translation of Carrère’s account is 1809. However, the British press began to advertise the book widely from October 1808. The Monthly Magazine, under ‘List of New Publications in September — Topography’, and The Edinburgh Review, under ‘Quarterly List of New Publications — Topography’, state that A Picture of Lisbon; Taken on the Spot had just come from the presses; however, it is erroneously presented as ‘Translated from the German of Frederic Link, 8vo’ (Anon. 1808a: 251, Anon. 1809: 244). The November 1809 issue of the The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine explains why it took some time to record the book’s publication, claiming that it did so ‘in compassion to our allies’, although it was forced to admit that, despite the mistakes and untruths the book contained, the portrayal it conveyed corresponded broadly to the truth of the facts (Anon. 1810: 323). The London Review, and Literary Journal of December 1808 reviewed the book without acknowledging that it was a translation and displaying little enthusiasm for it (Anon. 1808b: 458-9), while the Critical Review, also dated December 1808, considered Carrère’s account interesting and reliable (Anon. 1808c: 403, 414).

The November 1808 issue of The Monthly Review, clarifies the confusion over the date of the first edition, pointing out in an article on A Picture of Lisbon; Taken on the Spot that the correct date was 1808 and that this was ‘mis-printed 1809’ on the frontispiece (Anon. 1808d: 249-53). The periodical’s anonymous writer displayed perspicacity in detecting a tone of resentment and a tendency to exaggerate and ridicule in the text. He is one of two reviewers – the other being the reviewer of the Eclectic Review for November 1808[23] – to suspect the work was a translation:

No intimation is given respecting the situation of this Gentleman-resident: but we conjecture that the work was not originally written in English; and it appears, from various particulars in the narrative, that it is not the production of a recent observer. Having perhaps felt the effects of Portuguese despotism, his resentments are strong […] (Anon. 1808d: 249).

At the end of his review, he adds:

We apprehend that this account has been derived from a French source, and that the Editor is in fact the translator. The Gallicism of one does this and one does that occurs eight times in the space of eight lines, at p. 43. We have already remarked, also, that the observations of this Resident must have been made some years ago. He speaks of Mr. de Vismes,[24] the English merchant, as having just sold his villa to Mr. Beckford; a transaction of no recent date. The King of Portugal is mentioned as then living, and the Prince of Brazils[25] [sic] is represented as young and without experience, whereas he is now 41 years old. Money is also valued in French livres (Anon. 1808d: 253).

It is interesting to note that the writer for The Monthly Review was concerned to explain to his readers why he was minded to believe that the original text was in French. However, his assumption that the text had been translated by the English publisher — which he based also on the fact that pages 192-7 of text contained a ‘Note of the editor’ which contradicted Carrère’s account of the Academia Real das Ciências de Lisboa, founded in 1779 — was erroneous:

It is reported of the Academy of Sciences that it ‘is a strange combination of persons who cannot and are not intended to do any thing; of persons who cannot and do not wish to do any thing; and of persons who take great pains to appear to be doing something, but who actually do not more than those that do nothing.’ Here, however, the Editor steps forward, in contradiction of this report; and we are inclined to think that in other respects some editorial notes should have been subjoined, by way of caveats to exaggerations (Anon. 1808d: 253).

In effect, the long ‘Editor’s Note’ rehabilitating the image of the Academia Real das Ciências de Lisboa as an institution of great merit is already present in the original French text, a fact which the author of the article in The Monthly Review was unable to check by comparing the two publications. Besides, a comparison of the Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796 and A Picture of Lisbon; Taken on the Spot proves that the English translator merely omitted passages and did not add any. The only addition I have been able to identify occurs during the passage discussing the difficulties placed by Lisbon on marriages between foreigners — ‘On leur oppose des difficultés sans nombre, relatives à leur patrie, à leur naissance, à leur âge, à leur célibat, de veuvage, de mariage antécédent, à leur catholicité, etc. etc. etc.’ (Carrère 1797: 305): ‘Impediments without number are laid in their way relative to their country, their birth, their age, their state of celibacy or widowhood, their having been previously married or not, their being Catholics or Protestants [emphasis added], &c. &c.’ (Carrère 1809: 225). This clearly reflects concerns to adapt the translation to British religious reality.

4. The Translator’s Cut

As already stated, the translator excluded the Editor’s Note, the Foreword and the Letters Written from Portugal, On the Ancient and Present State of this Kingdom. He also cut several passages from the 61 ‘portraits’ which make up the view of Lisbon drawn by Carrère and completely suppressed one of them, ‘Chiens publics’  [‘Public Dogs’] (Carrère 1797: 308-10), on the countless packs of starving strays which infested the streets of Lisbon in the late eighteenth century. This omission shows that the translator knew that, during the first French invasion of Portugal (1807), the French General Jean-Andoche Junot (1771-1813) had had many of these animals put down; this apparently removed the need to point to this problem as one of the major defects of the Portuguese capital.

The passages cut by the translator begin to appear towards the middle of the book, in the pages on mendicants, prisons, accoucheurs, physicians, land-forces, the arts, clergy, religion, the patriarchal seat [sic] of Lisbon, marriages, ‘Frigideiros’, false witnesses, military orders and national prejudice which conclude the narrative. Some of the most significant and extensive cuts were made to the descriptions of prisons, with the omission of details of the putrid and filthy state of the straw on which prisoners slept, too repugnant for the author of the English translation, who prefers the simplified ‘mass of filth not to be described’ (Carrère 1809: 148). Cuts were also made to descriptions of the bad conditions in which Portuguese women gave birth, due to an insufficiency of qualified doctors and to the ignorance of ‘wise women’ (or midwives), a topic which Carrère, being a doctor, develops in some detail and which, in the English translation, is much reduced, thus omitting evidence that the author might be especially qualified to discuss the matter. Cuts were also applied to the religious practices of the Portuguese, much criticised at the time for their lack of true devotion.

It should, however, be noted that the pages suppressed are above all those which contain strong invective against the Portuguese and which repeat accusations already levelled by the author throughout his narrative. Thus, in making these changes, the translator appears to be eliminating personal resentment from the account and according greater relevance to factual and objective information. These options taken by the translator may have been related to the editorial policies defined by Henry Colburn, designed to publish works evincing impartial observation and thus deserving greater credibility. Arguably, a more determining factor may have been the change in target readership. The source text was read in France, which, during the Roussillon campaign between 1793 and 1795, had seen Portuguese troops ally themselves to Spanish and British armed forces in the fight against revolutionary France, thus heightening the climate of animosity between the governments of Paris and Lisbon. For its part, the English translation appeared at a time when Britain and Portugal were fighting side by side against their French enemy, and it was therefore impolitic to alienate the Portuguese people who were resisting the Napoleonic yoke. Although the portrait of Portugal painted in A Picture of Lisbon; Taken on the Spot is significantly unflattering in parts, Henry Colburn furnished British readers with a somewhat more moderate version of Carrère’s original.

At other times, the translator resorts to the techniques of paraphrasing and reduction, summarising passages in the original text and thus eliminating many details which lend plausibility and authenticity to the original French narrative. Also eliminated are some of the quotations from Dumouriez, and it is difficult to understand what criteria led the translator to retain some and suppress others and to ignore certain footnotes in the French original. Tables showing servants’ wages, the cost of food, and the annual income of the Patriarchal See of Lisbon also vanish in the English translation. Indeed, references to French currency are one of the most obvious signs that the translation was adapted for the British context, since the translator made every effort to erase this indication of the French origin of the work, converting the amounts mentioned in the original text to sterling, or simply suppressing them, though not always successfully, as The Monthly Review’s writer cleverly detected. In the process, the translator also eliminated many references to the Portuguese currency, which, apart from being a ‘betrayal’ of the original text, removes some of its distinctive local colour.

Alterity is conveyed by the Portuguese words used in the account, whose spelling, sometimes inaccurate in the original, is at times adhered to in the English translation (such as in Recio, Rivera-Velha, Polerim),[26]at others corrupted in the English (as in Joseph Leabra da Silva and Louis Pinto de Sousa-Cotinho: emphasis added).[27] The same ignorance of and lack of interest in the Portuguese language can be seen in the section ‘Lighting of the streets’ (Carrère 1809: 98-9), which omits a quotation in Portuguese included in the source text: ‘Far o que debe/Debe o que far’ (Carrère 1797: 133).[28] Carrère translates it into French for the French reading public (‘il fait ce qu’il doit, il doit ce qu’il fait’), but the English translator simply ignores it.

Another example of how the original text was manipulated to prevent readers from identifying the French authorship of the original occurs in the section titled ‘Literature’, which discusses the poor quality of Portuguese oratory. In the English translation, although France is still mentioned, the personal pronoun nos [ours] is removed from the original phrase ‘leurs sermons sont mal imités de nos [emphasis added] bons sermonaires [sic]’ (Carrère 1797: 246) [‘their sermons are bad imitations of our good preachers’], the translator opting for a more neutral solution: ‘their sermons are bad imitations of the discourses of good French pulpit-orators’ (Carrère 1809: 187).

The changes made in the translation, as instances of re-writing, may have had to do not simply with politics and ideology, but also with economic interests, as is the case when information on Portuguese butter imports — ‘on n’y fait ni beurre, ni fromage; on tire le premier de l’Irlande, le dernier de la Hollande et de l’Angleterre’ (Carrère 1797: 204, my emphasis) [‘they do not make either butter or cheese there; the former comes from Ireland, the latter from Holland and from England’] — is distorted, with the translator favouring the image of privileged trade with Britain: ‘They make neither butter nor cheese: the former they procure from Ireland, the latter from England’ (Carrère 1809: 158).

The not entirely accurate rendering of the contents does not, however, imply a betrayal of the style and tone of the original, which are in essence preserved. The translation sought to achieve fluency. The translator’s invisibility derived not simply from the fact that his name did not appear but also from the fact that his voice was not heard by means of paratextual materials such as a preface or notes which might shed light on the contents of the narrative, correcting inaccuracies and untruths or denouncing exaggerated disparagement.[29] The strategy adopted by the translator, which prioritised the reader in the target language, is closely related to extralinguistic factors, principally the political context in which the translation was published, which also explains why Carrère’s narrative was chosen for translation. The author of the article published in the Eclectic Review in November 1808 shows full awareness of the fact, stating:

Every publication which gives, or even professes to give, authentic information relative to any part of Spain or Portugal, will no doubt attract some notice at the present highly interesting situation of affairs in those afflicted states. The two works [A Picture of Lisbon; Taken on the Spot and A Picture of Valencia, Taken on the Spot] which we have here classed together, are both evidently brought forward to meet the immediate demand of public curiosity […] (Anon. 1808e: 1038).

The English translation of Carrère’s travel account appeared at a critical juncture in Anglo-French relations, but also at a time of great tension in Anglo-Portuguese relations. The victories secured in August by the Anglo-Portuguese army over the Napoleonic troops at Roliça and Vimeiro were followed by the notorious Convention of Sintra, negotiated by the French and the English and signed on 30 August 1808, which gave rise to deep anger and widespread controversy, not just in Portugal but also in Britain. Junot and the French army left Lisbon with the spoils of their pillage in September 1808, at which time the British reading public gained access to a description of the Portuguese capital and its people, which denigrated it and debased it to the most abject and despicable status. In terms of its impact on the target culture, the translation did not favour the small allied country which resisted Napoleonic oppression; rather it must have stimulated British repudiation of Portugal, confirming old prejudices.

5. Conclusions

Travel writing, a genre which saw major development in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and contributed greatly to the dynamism of book sales, is a field which invites translation. There are obvious similarities between the acts of travelling and translating, in the sense that the traveller’s journey from one place to another finds a parallel in the transfer of a text from one language to another. Just as travel accounts, they themselves ‘translations of a culture into language’ (Cronin 2000: 23), divulge images of a culture, so too their translation constitutes a vehicle for the dissemination of those same representations in other linguistic and cultural spaces, which can form and condition the way the target readers view the peoples described in such accounts.

A Picture of Lisbon; Taken on the Spot, the English translation of Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796, by Joseph-Barthélemy-François Carrère, is an example of this circulation of textual constructions of Otherness which translation affords; likewise it exemplifies some of the many transformations which may occur during this process. As a cultural mediator, the translator – and the publisher – can manipulate the source text with a view to producing a certain effect. In the case under analysis, the translator, concealed behind anonymity and with no paratexts authored by him/her, illustrates the situation of invisibility to which he/she was often reduced. However, it becomes clear that the freedom enjoyed by the translator allowed him/her to adopt a strategy of domestication of the text to be translated which condemns the French authorship of Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796 to invisibility.

Published in 1808, during the Peninsular War, the English translation of Carrère’s work disseminated a significantly caustic view of Portugal which nevertheless displays many similarities with other representations of this country authored by foreigners, both before and after. With Britain’s participation in the war, the British publishing world soon began putting out accounts of Portugal written by British soldiers and officers who, like Carrère, vehemently denounced the arbitrary actions and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church despite the relations of friendship and cooperation between the two nations. These texts, originally written in English, are shot through with the feeling of cultural superiority towards Portugal which we also find in Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796 and, as a result, in its English translation; even though in this instance the cuts made by the unidentified translator contributed towards softening the violent language of the original’s assessment of Portugal.

A Picture of Lisbon; Taken on the Spot, read alongside other derogatory works, probably contributed to the British reading public’s negative ideas about Portugal, many of which crystallised in the shape of stereotypes and became perpetuated in time. In its twofold condition of linguistic and cultural transfer liable to being moulded to the interests of the translator and other agents in the translating process, as well as to the historical circumstances, translation of travel literature has the power not just to reproduce, but also to produce images of cultural identity. It plays a basic role in the transit of opinions and representations of the Other and of discourses on alterity in time and space.


Anon. (1808a) “Review: A Picture of Lisbon, Taken on the Spot”, Monthly Magazine and British Register 26, no. 176: 251.

---- (1808b) “Review: A Picture of Lisbon, Taken on the Spot”, The European Magazine and London Review 54: 456-9.

---- (1808c) “Review: A Picture of Lisbon, Taken on the Spot”, The Critical Review. Or, Annals of Literature 3rd series, XV: 403-14.

---- (1808d) “Review: A Picture of Lisbon, Taken on the Spot”, The Monthly Review; or Literary Journal LVII: 249-53.

---- (1808e) “Review: A Picture of Lisbon, Taken on the Spot”, The Eclectic Review IV, II: 1038-9.

---- (1809) “Review: A Picture of Lisbon, Taken on the Spot”, The Edinburgh Review: Or Critical Journal XIII: 244.

---- (1810) “Review: A Picture of Lisbon, Taken on the Spot”, The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine; or Monthly, Political, and Literary Censor XXXIV: 323.

Branco Chaves, Castelo (1984) A emigração francesa em Portugal durante a Revolução, Lisbon, Instituto de Cultura e Língua Portuguesa, Ministério da Educação.

Carrère, Joseph-Barthélemy-François (1797) Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796; suivi de lettres écrites de Portugal sur l’état ancien et actuel de ce royaume, Paris, Jansen.

----, Joseph-Barthélemy-François (1809) A Picture of Lisbon; Taken on the Spot: Being a Description, Moral, Civil, Political, Physical, and Religious, of that Capital; with Sketches of the Government, Character, and Manners of the Portuguese in General, London, Henry Colburn.

Castanheira, Maria Zulmira (2010) “Philadelphia Stephens e a controvérsia em torno de Letters from Portugal, on the Late and Present State of that Kingdom” in Pombal e o seu Tempo, João Paulo Pereira da Silva (ed.), Lisboa, Caleidoscópio: 69-82.

Cronin, Michael (2000) Across the Lines: Travel, Language, Translation, Cork, Cork University Press.

McCalman, Ian, ed. (2001) An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age. British Culture 1776-1832, Oxford, Oxford University Press.


[1] Charles François Périer Dumouriez (General), État présent du Royaume du Portugal, en l'année MDCCLXVI (Lausanne 1775; nouvelle édition revue, corrigée et considérablement augmentée: Hambourg 1797). German translation: Die wirkliche Verfassung des Königreichs Portugall im Jahr 1766 (Bern 1776; another edition, published in the same year that saw publication of the second, revised, amended and augmented edition, of the French original: Des General Dumouriez historisch-statistisches Gemälde von Portugall. Leipzig 1797). English translation: An Account of Portugal, as it Appeared in 1776 to Dumouriez (London 1797). The Portuguese translation was published only recently: O Reino de Portugal em 1766 (Casal de Cambra 2007).

[2] William Dalrymple, Travels Through Spain and Portugal, in 1774; With a Short Account of the Spanish Expedition Against Algiers, in 1775 (London 1777). German translation: Reisen durch Spanien und Portugall im Jahre 1774 nebst einer kurzen Nachricht von der spanischen Unternehmung auf Algiers im Jahr 1775 (Leipzig 1778). French translation: Voyage en Espagne et en Portugal dans l’année 1774 avec une relation de l’expédition des Espagnols contre les Algériens, en 1775 (Paris 1783).

[3] Arthur William Costigan, Sketches of Society and Manners in Portugal. In a Series of Letters from Arthur William Costigan to his Brother in London (London 1787). German translation: Skizzen der Sitten und des gesellschaftlichen Lebens in Portugall, in Briefen von dem Kapitän [...] an seinem Bruder in London (Leipzig 1788). French translation: Lettres sur le Gouvernement, les moeurs et les usages en Portugal écrites par Arthur William Costigan à son frère (Paris 1810). Portuguese translation: Cartas de Portugal: 1778-1779 (n. p. 1946). There are two other editions of the same translation: Cartas sobre a sociedade e os costumes de Portugal 1778-1779 (Lisbon 1992) and Retratos de Portugal: Sociedade e Costumes (Casal de Cambra 2007).

[4] Richard Twiss, Travels Through Portugal and Spain, in 1772 and 1773 (London 1775). French translation: Voyage en Portugal et en Espagne fait en 1772 & 1773 (Berne 1776). German translation: Reisen durch Portugal und Spanien im Jahre 1772 und 1773 (Leipzig 1776).

[5] James Murphy, Travels in Portugal […] in the Years 1789 and 1790 (London 1795). German translation: Reisen durch Portugal in den Jahren 1789 und 1790 (Halle 1796). French translation: Voyage en Portugal […] dans les années 1789 et 1790 (Paris 1797). Portuguese translation: Viagens em Portugal (Lisbon 1998).

[6] Robert Southey, Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (Bristol 1797). Although a major figure on the literary scene of his day, and indeed the first English Lusophile, Southey’s travel account has not yet been translated into French, German or Portuguese.

[7] Joseph-Barthélemy-François Carrère, Voyage en Portugal, et Particulièrement à Lisbonne, ou Tableau Moral, Civil, Politique, Physique et Religieux de cette Capitale, etc. etc.; suivi de plusieurs Lettres sur l’état ancien et actuel de ce Royaume (Paris 1798). In 1797 or 1798 the Voyage du ci-devant Duc du Châtelet, en Portugal, où se trouvent des détails intéressans sur ses colonies, sur le tremblement de terre de Lisbonne, sur M. de Pombal et la cour; revu, corrigé sur le manuscrit, et augmenté de notes sur la situation actuelle de ce Royaume et de ses Colonies etc., intended as a complement to Carrère’s Tableau de Lisbonne, was published. The work is attributed to Pierre Dezoteux Cormatin (1753-1812).

[8] This is not strictly true, for, prior to publication of the book by Dumouriez and the French translation of Murphy’s account, at least two travel narratives about Portugal had appeared in French,: an anonymous Description de la Ville de Lisbonne où l’on traite de la Cour de Portugal, de la Langue Portugaise, & des Moeurs des Habitants; du Gouvernement, des Revenues du Roi, & de ses Forces, par Mer & par Terre; des Colonies Portugaises, & du Commerce de cette Capitale (1730) and Mémoires Instructifs pour un voyageur dans les divers États de l’Europe: Contenant des Anecdotes curieuses très propres à éclaircir l’Histoire du Temps¸ avec des Remarques sur le Commerce et l’Histoire Naturelle (1738) by the naturalist and doctor Charles Frédéric de Merveilleux (1686-1749). These two accounts were translated into Portuguese in the twentieth century by Castelo Branco Chaves (1900-1992) and published as O Portugal de D. João V visto por três forasteiros (Lisbon 1983).

[9] All references are mine unless otherwise stated.

[10] In addition to the Tableau de Lisbonne en 1796, suivi d’une lettre écrite en Portugal sur l’état ancien et actuel de ce royaume (Paris 1797), Carrère published numerous works on medicine, such as the Dissertation Médico-Pratique, sur l’usage des rafraichissans et des échauffans dans les fièvres exanthématiques (Amsterdam and Paris 1778), the Traité Théorique et Pratique des Maladies Inflammatoires (Paris 1774), the Bibliothèque Littéraire Historique et Critique de la Médecine Ancienne et Moderne (2 vols, Paris 1776) and the Manuel pour le service des malades, ou précis des connaissances nécessaires aux personnes chargées du soin des malades, femmes enceintes, enfants nouveau-nés, etc. (Paris 1786), and on mineral waters, such as the Catalogue raisonné des ouvrages qui ont été publiés sur les eaux minérales en général, et sur celles de la France en particulier (Paris 1785). Nicolas-Toussaint des Essarts’s supplement to the Siècles Littéraires de la France, ou Nouveau Dictionnaire Historique, Critique et Bibliographique de tous les écrivains français, morts et vivans jusqu’à la fin du XVIII siècle (Paris 1800-1803), asserts that Carrère also wrote poetry, novels and plays, but does not provide titles.

[11] See ‘CARRÈRE (Joseph-Barthélemy-François)’, Biographie Universelle, Ancienne et Moderne, ou histoire, par ordre alphabétique, de la vie publique et privée de tous les hommes qui se sont distingués par leurs écrits, leurs actions, leurs talents, leurs vertus ou leurs crimes. Ouvrage entièrement neuf, rédigé par une société de gens de lettres et de savants. Tome septième (Paris 1813): 213-14; ‘CARRÈRE (Joseph-Barthélemy-François)’, Nouvelle Biographie Générale depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu’à 1850-60, avec les renseignements bibliographiques et l’indication des sources à consulter. Publiée par MM. Firmin Didot Frères, sous la direction de M. Le Dr Hoefer. Vol. VII-VIII (Copenhagen 1964): 872-4; ‘CARRÈRE (Joseph-Barthélemy-François)’, Dictionnaire Historique de la Médecine Ancienne et Moderne, ou Précis de l’Histoire Générale, Technologique et Littéraire de la Médecine, suivi de la bibliographie médicale du dix-neuvième siècle, et d’un répertoire bibliographique par ordre de matières. Par MM. Dezeimeris, Ollivier (d’Angers) et Raige-Delorme, docteurs en médecine. Tome Premier. Deuxième Partie (Paris, Bruxelles, London 1831): 637-9; (accessed 6 May 2011); (accessed 6 May 2011); (accessed 6 May 2011).

[12] While Carrère was living in Portugal, two other foreign travellers visited the country: the Swedish Protestant pastor Carl Israel Ruders (1761-1837) and the German naturalist Heinrich Friedrich Link (1767-1851), who authored Portugisisk Res: Breskrifven i Bref till Vänner (1805-1809) and Bemerkungen auf einer Reise durch Frankreich, Spanien und vorzüglich Portugal (1801-1804) respectively. While these narratives confirm some of Carrère’s harsh critiques of Portuguese reality, they correct some of his information and judgments, highlighting the exaggerated and unfair nature of the French author’s view. These two accounts were only translated into Portuguese in recent decades: Viagem em Portugal 1798-1802 (Lisbon 1981) is an incomplete translation of Ruders’s text, which is presented in its entirety in Viagem em Portugal 1798-1802 (Lisbon 2002) and Notas de uma viagem a Portugal e através de França e Espanha (Lisbon 2005). However, the first two volumes of Link’s work were rapidly translated into English (Travels in Portugal, and through France and Spain, with a dissertation on the literature of Portugal, and the Spanish and Portuguese languages, London 1801), while all three volumes were translated into French (Voyage en Portugal, depuis 1797 jusqu’en 1799, par M. Linck, membre de plusieurs sociétés savantes; suivi d’un Essai sur le commerce du Portugal. Paris 1803-1805). Ruders’s narrative was translated into German as the Reise durch Portugall von C. I. Ruders, Königlich-Schwedischem Gesandschaftsprediger in Lissabon (Berlin 1808).

[13] Dictionnaire Historique de la Médecine Ancienne et Moderne: 637.

[14] Les procès-verbaux du directoire exécutif an v - an viii. Inventaire des registres des délibérations et des minutes des arrêtés, lettres et actes du directoire faisant suite au Recueil des actes du Directoire exécutif d'Antonin Debidour. Tome III. vendémiaire-frimaire an VI [22 septembre-20 décembre 1797] (registre AF* III 9; cartons AF III 467, plaquette 2842, à AF III 487, plaquette 3042), by Pierre-Dominique Cheynet, Conservateur en chef aux Archives nationales 1998 (édition pour mise en ligne, 2006). (accessed 9 May 2011).

[15] Panorama de Lisboa no ano de 1796. By J. B. F. Carrère. Translation, preface and notes by Castelo Branco Chaves (Lisbon 1989).

[16] Castelo Branco Chaves corrects the bibliographer José Carlos Pinto de Sousa’s mistaken attribution of the Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796 to Pierre Carrère in his Bibliotheca histórica de Portugal, e seus domínios ultramarino: Na qual se contém varias Historias d’aquelle, e d’estes Ms. e impressas em prosa, e em verso, só, e juntas com as de outros Estados, escritas por Auctores Portuguezes, e Estrangeiros; etc. Nova Edição, correcta, e amplamente augmentada (Lisbon 1801, ‘Addições’, 22-23): ‘He fama publica, que o Author desta Obra, he um Francez chamado Pedro Carrere, Medico dos Empregados no Serviço da Cavalhariça da infeliz Rainha de França D. Maria Antonetta de Austria, o qual se transportou daquelle Estado depois da morte do seu desgraçado Rei Luiz XVI, para Inglaterra, donde veio para Portugal pelos annos 1793, ou 1794; e donde por Ordem da Policia, foi expulso, e transportado com outros para Genova pelos annos de 1795.’ [‘It is widely known that the author of this work is a Frenchman called Pedro Carrère, doctor to the servants of the cavalry of the unfortunate Queen of France, Marie Antoinette of Austria; this doctor travelled from that state, after the death of its ill-fated king, Louis XVI, to England, whence he came to Portugal around the year 1793 or 1794 and from where, under a Police Order, he was expelled, and taken with others to Genoa around 1795.’] Drawing on the diary of the Marquis de Bombelles, Journal d’un Ambassadeur de France au Portugal, 1786-1788 (Paris 1979, 218-222), Castelo Branco Chaves proves that Pierre Carrère was part of the French colony in Lisbon before 1787 and cannot therefore be the author of Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796. The possibility, however, remains that the work was authored by a member of his family (see Carrère, Panorama de Lisboa no ano de 1796, 11).

[17] ‘Travel writing constituted one of the largest genres of Romantic-period publication. It included accounts of experience and exploration beyond Europe, descriptions of European peripheries as well as accounts from the more conventional Grand Tour, and descriptions of scenery and journeys within Britain, sometimes primarily directed toward the discussion of aesthetics, political conditions, or methods of agricultural improvement’ (McCalman, 737).

[18] Christian Augustus Fischer, A Picture of Madrid: Taken on the Spot. Translated from the German (London 1808).

[19] Christian Augustus Fischer, A Picture of Valencia, Taken on the Spot, trans Frederic Schoberl (London 1808).

[20] Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, 1st Marquis of Pombal (1699-1782), was a controversial eighteenth-century ‘enlightened’ Portuguese statesman. From 1750 to 1777 he was Minister for Foreign Affairs and War and Minister of the Kingdom, an office equivalent to prime minister, during the reign of José I. He implemented important economic, educational, religious, military and administrative reforms and distinguished himself by the firm and efficacious measures he took in the aftermath of the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. The adjective Pombalino (Pombaline) refers both to his administration and to the architectural style introduced in the rebuilding of Lisbon following the earthquake.

[21] Lettres écrites de Portugal sur l’état ancien et actuel de ce royaume, traduites de l’anglais; suivies du portrait historique de M. le Marquis de Pombal (London 1780).

[22] Letters from Portugal, On the Late and Present State of that Kingdom (London 1777). The fact that the letters are anonymous led to speculation as to the identity of the author. It has been mooted that they were written by the Marquis de Pombal himself, or by a certain John Blankett, or even by Philadelphia Stephens (1750-1824), the sister of William Stephens (1731-1802) and John James Stephens (1747-1826), who ran the Real Fábrica de Vidros da Marinha Grande (the royal glass factory) for several decades. Philadelphia Stephens lived in Portugal from 1762 to 1810. However, every available fact points to her as having merely translated the letters into Portuguese shortly after they were published in Britain. The Portuguese translation is also anonymous, which contributed to the controversy. Several manuscript copies are extant; they have slightly different titles which can be uniformised as Cartas sobre o estado presente e passado do reino de Portugal. Traduzidas do Inglês em Português. Anno de 1777. On Letters from Portugal see: Maria Zulmira Castanheira (2010: 69-82).

[23] ‘The Picture of Lisbon is apparently a hasty translation of some insignificant French revolutionary writer, about the years 1795 and 1796, which, on account of the temporary interest on the subject, has been raked out of deserved obscurity’ (Anon. 1808e: 1038).

[24] Gerard De Visme (1726-1797), a rich Lisbon merchant, built a neo-Gothic palace at Monserrate, Sintra, which he rented out to the writer and art collector William Beckford (1760-1844) in 1793.

[25] João VI (1767-1826), who reigned from 1816 to his death. In 1788 he received the title of Prince of Brazil and in 1792 he assumed the regency due to the mental illness of his widowed mother Queen Maria I.

[26] The correct forms in Portuguese are: Rossio, Ribeira-Velha and Pelourinho.

[27] In the French original the spelling is correct: Joseph Seabra da Silva, Louis Pinto de Sousa-Coutinho.

[28] The transcription of the saying in Carrère’s text contains errors: ‘Faz o que deve/Deve o que faz’ is the correct form in Portuguese. It means ‘He does what he owes/ He owes what he does’, a reference to Pina Manique’s habit of not paying his debts. In Portuguese, the verb dever signifies both must and to owe money.

[29] There is no evidence to indicate whether this invisibility was a deliberate choice on the part of the translator or whether it was determined by the publisher. The fact is that anonymity was a common practice in the field of translation at the time.

About the author(s)

Maria Zulmira Castanheira is Assistant Professor in the Department of Modern Languages, Cultures and Literatures at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, where she teaches English Literature, Translation Studies and Anglo-Portuguese Studies. She is also coordinator of the Lisbon branch of CETAPS (Centre for English, Translation and Anglo-Portuguese Studies, Portugal). She holds an MA and a PhD in Anglo-Portuguese Studies. Her research concentrates on 18th and 19th century Anglo-Portuguese historical, literary and cultural relations. She has written mainly on British travel writing on Portugal and on the reception of British culture in the periodical press of Portuguese Romanticism. She is particularly interested in imagology, the study of cultural representations of national identity and the construction of mental images of the Other and of the Self.

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©inTRAlinea & Maria Zulmira Castanheira (2013).
"Joseph-Barthélemy-François Carrère’s Tableau de Lisbonne, en 1796 (1797) in English Translation"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: Translating 18th and 19th Century European Travel Writing
Edited by: Susan Pickford & Alison E. Martin
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